Former Mississippi pastor charged with sex crimes against children gets 18 years

Fox 13 [Memphis, TN]

March 6, 2024

By Lakiya Scott

Eighteen years in prison — that’s the sentencing fate of a former Olive Branch pastor charged with sex crimes against children.

According to the Desoto County District Attorney’s Office, Daniel Paul Harris, former pastor of Olive Branch Christian Church on New Craft Road, will have to serve this term without the possibility of parole or early release.

“If he’s touching little kids, yes he should be under the jail,” said Veterra Davis of Olive Branch.

FOX13 received strong reaction Wednesday from people who live in a nearby community following Harris’ sentencing.

“It’s really scary though because that’s right around the corner. I won’t have my kids outside,” Davis added. 

“Well he should have got more,” James Thompson told FOX13 about the sentence.

Harris is charged with sexual battery and fondling.

District Attorney Matthew Barton announced this week that Harris pleaded guilty to charges related to sex crimes against children as far back as 2015.

“I think that’s nasty,” Davis continued. 

The DA’s office said Harris continuously molested teens between 2015 and 2018. FOX13 has learned that a victim shared a childhood incident they had with Harris with a family member, causing other victims to come forward.

“I’m a grandfather myself. I got kids, and I would hate anybody to do anything like that to my kids,” said Thompson.

FOX13 obtained a statement from the DA’s office. It reads as follows:

“Instead of being a pastor and educator, Harris used his position of trust to violate the innocence of children to fulfill his reprehensible desires. Today’s plea will ensure that other children will be shielded from this child predator while sparing a lengthy court process for the victims who endured horrendous abuse at the hands of Daniel Harris,” said District Attorney Matthew Barton. “People like this have no place in society and my office will continue to partner with federal, local, and state law enforcement to ensure nefarious individuals like this are behind bars and their victims receive justice.”

“If you’re a man of the cloth, you’re supposed to be here to help save lives,” said Hosea Tate, an Olive Branch resident of 14 years.

Meanwhile, Harris will also have to register as a sex offender and can no longer serve as an educator.