URBANA — A 34-year-old registered sex offender from Tennessee was arraigned Friday on four counts of child abduction for allegedly picking up a 13-year-old girl from Jefferson Middle School in Champaign.
Joseph C. Harrison, 34, who listed an address in Nashville, pleaded innocent. Harrison, who is being held on $1 million bond, made his first local court appearance after being extradited from Tennessee, where he was arrested last month.
According to Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn, Harrison made contact and "developed an inappropriate and unlawful relationship" via the Internet with the Champaign girl since last summer, telling the girl he was 19 years old.
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.
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 again on Jan. 17. A fourth trip was planned, according to 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.
Ford set Harrison's next court appearance for March 6.