Loudoun jury recommends two life sentences for repeat sex offender
A Loudoun County jury on Friday recommended two life sentences plus 75 years for a 52-year-old man convicted on a plethora of sex crimes.
Moses Ulysses Harris, address, unknown, was found guilty of 10 felony offenses including two counts of rape, two counts of carnal knowledge, five counts of indecent liberties with a child by custodian and one count of manufacturing child pornography.
Senior Assistant Gigi Lawless and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Angela Vernail represented the commonwealth during the three-day jury trial.
Beginning in the summer of 2007, Harris, a previously convicted sex offender, worked his way into the lives a local family, according to Heather Williamson, spokesperson for the Loudoun Commonwealth Attroney's Office.
After moving in with the family, Williamson said Harris sexually abused one of the young children living there for five years.
“While mandatory life sentences are required by statute for repeat offenders in cases such as this, I have little doubt that the jury needed the statutory directive,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman said in a statement. “Citizens have a heightened fear of child predators due to their unpredictable behavior and the innocence of the victims they seek. All families should take reasonable steps to become aware of where these offenders live and work in their community.”
Vernail told the jury that this was a case about “hiding and secrets.” "The secrets a little girl was forced to keep and how a sexual predator was hiding in the midst of our community while being sought by Virginia State Police for failing to register as a violent sex offender."
After the jury returned a guilty verdict, Vernail presented evidence of Harris’ prior criminal history which included a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child in 2002 and two prior misdemeanor convictions for failing to register as a sex offender in 2008. Vernail then asked the jury to sentence Harris to the maximum time allowable by law, urging them to use their voices to speak for the community and to take away any possibility of him being released from prison again.
In a previous trial, the victim’s mother was also convicted by a jury of felony child cruelty for knowingly allowing her child to reside with and be abused by a convicted sex offender.
Harris will be sentenced June 13 before Circuit Court Judge Burke F. McCahill who presided over the trial. Under Virginia law a judge may reduce a jury’s recommendation by providing written reasons therefore, but may not increase a jury’s recommendation. The two life terms plus 45 years of the 75 year sentence imposed is a mandatory minimum sentence as directed under the Virginia Code, and therefore cannot be reduced in whole or in part.