Sunday School teacher charged with molesting 14-year-old

The Sunday School teacher accused of molesting a pupil could face additional charges stemming from a church trip to Macon.

James Benjamin Harris, of Lawrenceville, already faces six counts of child molestation and one charge of enticing a child for indecent purposes, according to Gwinnett County jail records. All seven charges are felonies.

The charges stem from a relationship Harris allegedly had with a 14-year-old boy he met through Sunday School classes at Brookwood Baptist Church, near Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County police said. The church is located on Five Forks Trickum Road in the Brookwood High School district.

Harris first met the boy three and a half years ago in a sixth grade Sunday School class at the church. The boy currently is a home schooled ninth grader.

But the boys' parents told police interaction between the two had increased in recent months, Cpl. Jake Smith said. Harris and the boy went to the mall and Braves games together and often talked on the phone, according to a police report obtained by the AJC.

In December, Harris gave the boy his first cell phone as a Christmas gift and the two began exchanging text messages, according to the report. The boys' parents said he also kept the phone with him until one day last week.

While her son was at a neighbor's home Jan. 11, the boy's mother told police she read explicit text messages Harris had sent, the report states. Harris had sent numerous messages dating back several days and many were sexually explicit in nature, according to investigators.

Harris was arrested on Jan. 14 and is being held without bond.

Brookwood Baptist Church pastor Dean Oliver said Harris was a volunteer and had passed a background check "as is our policy for all adults that work with our kids."

Oliver said the church is cooperating fully with police and providing counselors for the victim, the victim’s family and other members of the church.

The investigation into Harris' relationship with the boy also involves police investigators in Macon, Smith said.

Harris was in charge of middle school boys on a late December church retreat in the middle Georgia city, police said. Harris and the boy allegedly shared a bed in a hotel room during that trip.