CHAMPAIGN — A 34-year-old registered sex offender from Tennessee has been charged with child abduction after he picked up a 13-year-old girl from Jefferson Middle School in Champaign.
Joseph Cain Harrison had been making contact and "developing an inappropriate and unlawful relationship" via the Internet with the Champaign girl since the summer, telling her he was 19, according to Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn.
Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said the contact also included telephone calls, which led to Harrison coming to Champaign — during which nothing sinister happened, Ziegler said.
Harrison came to Champaign on Jan. 8 and crossed paths with the girl while she was with her family at two businesses, according to Champaign police Sgt. Dave Griffet.
Then, Ziegler said, Harrison picked her up from school and took her home on Jan. 12 and Jan. 17. A fourth trip was planned, according to Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn.
The girl told an acquaintance about the contact. Word then reached the girl's parents, who contacted police.
Champaign police investigated and obtained a warrant charging Harrison with child abduction for the January incidents.
The warrant was entered into the national Law Enforcement Agencies Data System, and Champaign police contacted Nashville police, who served the arrest warrant and obtained a search warrant for Harrison's home, including telephone and computer equipment there.
Harrison was convicted of aggravated sexual battery in 2000 in Tennessee and served time in prison there.
He is in custody in Tennessee on a $1 million bond. Authorities here will seek extradition to have him brought back to Champaign County.