• Pastor charged with sexual battery: 'I allowed the devil to motivate my mind'

    By: Ken Lemon


    GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - A Gastonia pastor said the devil led him to a Super 8, where police said he asked a woman for sex.

    Officers told Channel 9 that the pastor said he thought the woman was a prostitute and threw a $20 bill at her.

    Robert Harris said Wednesday he will tell his congregation that he asked for sex from a woman in a Gastonia motel.
    He said he will ask for their forgiveness and it will be up to them to decide if they keep him as their leader
    Harris has been the pastor at Harriett Memorial Freewill Baptist Church in Forest City for the past 13 years.
    He said he had counseled a couple at the Super 8 in Gastonia 10 years ago.
    He went back last night knocking on a woman's door.

    The woman said she did not want to be identified.
    "He asked me if I wanted to have some fun,” she said.
    She told him no. He left and she called 911.
    Her baby was on the bed and she was on the phone with police when Harris came back.
    "(He) tried to push himself in on me. Threw me a $20 bill and said, 'There is more where that came from. Just let me in for a few minutes,' knowing my 12-month-old daughter was right there with me,” the woman said.
    The officer on the phone said he heard Harris making vulgar requests to the woman.
    The arresting officer said Harris claimed he had come to that hotel in the past for sex.
    Channel 9 spoke to Harris by phone.
    “I should never have been in that place, period,” Harris said.
    He said he had never seen that woman before and wanted to apologize to her.
    "I beg for her forgiveness that I was wrong.  I asked God to forgive me,” he said.
    He said he hadn't told his family or parishioners.

    He said he wanted to go to God in prayer first.
    "I have ruined my life.  I have ruined my ministry.  I have ruined my family,” Harris said.

    His accuser was stunned when we told her that Harris was a minister.
    She thinks any punishment he receives should be far greater than the average person.
    "He is abusing the people, not just me," she said.

    Harris said he had not forgiven himself for what he has done.

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