Father accused in hot car death indicted on child exploitation charges in Georgia

KTRK logo
Saturday, March 5, 2016
EMBED <>More Videos

Exploitation charges have been filed against a man whose son died in his care

COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- A man accused of leaving his son in the back of a hot car in Georgia has been indicted on charges of sexual exploitation of children.

Justin Ross Harris is also charged with several counts of dissemination of harmful material to minors.

The indictment was handed down Thursday by a Cobb County grand jury.

Court documents claim that Harris "did knowingly possess material, a digital image and photograph depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct."

The document says Harris "did knowingly disseminate and furnish...printed matter containing explicit and detailed verbal descriptions and narrative accounts of sexual excitement and sexual conduct" to a minor.

The indictment lists at least three girls related to the charges.

Harris is awaiting trial in the death of his son, Cooper, who died in July 2014 after being left in the back of his father's hot SUV.

Harris claims that he simply forgot about his son that day.

Throughout several pretrial hearings, prosecutors have alleged that Harris sent sexually explicit text messages to several women, including on the morning of his son's death. Harris' attorneys tried to have that evidence thrown out.

In October, a judge said that the text messages could be used as evidence.

Prosecutors said the messages show a motive for Harris killing his son. They said he was looking for another life.

"We are concerned that the timing of this indictment is a calculated maneuver to inflame public opinion against Ross on the eve of jury selection," Harris' attorneys said in a statement.

"After more than a 20-month investigation into every imaginable detail of Ross Harris' life, this new indictment alleges no acts of cruelty, no deprivation, no abuse, nor any neglect of Cooper. The content and timing of this indictment confirms the absence of such evidence, and it signals the state's desperation to convict Ross of the worst mistake any of us as parents could make."

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds also released a statement on Friday.

"The recent indictment is based on advances in electronic forensic analysis in conjunction with recent interviews of newly discovered victims. Had the state delayed charging any further, prosecution of some of the charges would have been barred by the statute of limitations," Reynolds said.