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Jury starts deliberating child molestation case

The Sacramento Bee, USA
Jan. 21, 2004
Mareva Brown
www.sacbee.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday January 21, 2004

A self-designated prophet faces charges involving three kids.

Jurors began deliberating the fate Tuesday of Allen Rex Harrod, a self-proclaimed religious prophet who is charged with molesting three children in rituals laid out in his own interpretations of Scripture.

Harrod, 58, is charged with 32 counts of child molestation stemming from acts he allegedly committed on one daughter, a son and the daughter of a friend. If convicted, he could face life in prison. His wife, Irene Hunt, is charged with eight counts involving two children and could face up to 18 years in prison.

Harrod’s attorney, Dani Williams, variously compared the case to the Salem witch trials, the propaganda of Hitler’s Nazi Germany and the ill-fated McMartin preschool child-molestation trial of the 1980s.

“I couldn’t figure out why these kids and adults would get up here and lie,” Williams told jurors in two days of closing arguments that began last week with a brief soft-shoe. She also sang a few bars from a “Jungle Book” tune to illustrate her comparison of FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Rinek to the evil snake Ka, allegedly luring children into false testimony.

A defense theme was that the claims of molestation were fabricated by the eldest Harrod daughter, now 29, and then fed to the other children after Harrod’s arrest in 2001.

But prosecutor Chris Ore said Williams’ version of events ignores the facts, including journals written by the children to Harrod in which they detail their own repeated molestations.

Children testified during the nine-week trial that they were instructed to use the euphemisms “loaf” for intercourse and “fish” for oral copulation, and the journals document the number of times they provided Harrod — whom they called their “Lord” — with sexual favors each week.

Years of journals were kept in binders that lined the living room shelves of Harrod’s home. In addition to detailing molestations, the journals document more mundane household tasks such as watering roses.

Hunt’s attorney, Dean Johansson also denied the molestations took place but pointed out that his client was working multiple jobs during the years that the children allege they were molested and wasn’t in a position to know what was going on. Johansson said Hunt also was in a subservient position to Harrod, whom she also referred to as “Lord,” and that she feared his anger and was therefore at his disposal.

Johansson highlighted the testimony of one of Hunt’s sons, whom she is accused of molesting, who said that his father ordered Hunt to participate. The boy, now 18, said he saw Harrod slap his mother when she objected to housing three attractive teenage daughters of a family friend in their home because she was aware of Harrod’s interest in them. One of the girls is among the alleged victims in the case.

That friend, Michael Labrecque, is described by investigators as Harrod’s “bishop” in the religious sect they created, which involves a blend of Mormon and ancient Jewish doctrine overlaid with rituals of child molestation.

Labrecque and his wife, Juliette, are facing federal charges of transporting their daughters from their home in Texas to the Harrods’ in Sacramento for illegal purposes. The Harrods also may face federal charges.

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