A judge on Wednesday temporarily suspended the molestation case against Allen Harrod, a self-proclaimed religious prophet accused of ritualistically abusing his own children over more than two decades, after Harrod’s own attorney questioned his sanity and competence to stand trial.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gary Ransom ordered two psychiatrists to examine Harrod, 56, and report back to the court by Sept. 4, four days before his trial is scheduled to begin. If the reports are not ready, Ransom could suspend the trial date.
“I’m not going to let this thing drag on,” Ransom said moments before granting the order.
The move came just one week after 70 of the 97 charges against Harrod were dropped because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that effectively sets the statute of limitations for old molestation cases at 1988. Many of Harrod’s alleged crimes happened before that.
With 97 criminal charges against him, Harrod faced a prison term of several hundred years. Now, Harrod is charged with 27 counts of committing a lewd act with a child younger than 14, involving a family member who just turned 17. He faces as many as 50 years in prison under the remaining charges.
However, prosecutor Chris Ore added five new charges to Harrod’s case last week that could mean a life term. Those charges relate to separate alleged attacks on one of Harrod’s children — including one which came after Harrod allegedly threatened to kill the child — and the daughter of a close friend.
The new charges include separate incidents of child sodomy, oral copulation with a child and statutory rape involving the 14-year-old daughter of a friend. The girl was sent to live with the Harrods and told she had to engage in sex with the patriarch, Harrod, as part of her religious training, according to the prosecutor. Harrod claimed to be the leader of a Mormon sect.
“She was told she had to perform each of those three things as part of the ritual of getting close to God,” Ore said.
The combination of charges, and the fact that they are filed under more recent sentencing laws, could mean life in prison for Harrod.
“The remaining charges didn’t properly hold them responsible for the amount of harm they caused these victims,” said Ore, who also is prosecuting Harrod’s wife, Irene, in the case.
Harrod’s attorney questioned the necessity of the new charges.
“Given the fact that he’s looking at significant time on the other charges, it seems superfluous,” said Harrod’s attorney, Dani Williams, who has maintained her client is innocent.
The case against Irene Harrod, meanwhile, was reduced from 27 to five charges after the Supreme Court decision earlier this year. Those five could mean an 18-year prison sentence. She was charged with two new counts last week. In one, she and Harrod are both accused of engaging in sex at the same time with one child who was 6 years old at the time.
Irene Harrod’s attorney, Dean Johansson, said he believes his client will be exonerated of most of the charges and that he hopes the case will go to trial Sept. 8, as scheduled.
Irene Harrod is due in court Sept. 4 for a preliminary hearing on the two new charges. The new case against her husband has been suspended until Ransom rules on Harrod’s competency.