Police: Suspect tried to assault 2 girls inside GR school

A mug shot of Jalen Harris. (Courtesy Grand Rapids Police Department)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Police say a 22-year-old man walked into a Grand Rapids charter elementary and middle school and told two female students he was there at their mother’s request to check their pants’ size.

Jalen Harris allegedly entered River City Scholars Charter Academy, 944 Evergreen St. SE, the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 2, according to a Grand Rapids Police affidavit.

Harris allegedly went up to a girl younger than 13 and told her that he was there at her mother’s request to check the size of her pants.

Harris took the girl into a private room where her pulled down the girl’s pants, police said.

A Feb. 5, 2016 photo of River City Charter
A Feb. 5, 2016 photo of River City Charter

According to the police report, Harris tried to get the girl to remove her leggings, but she refused. He proceeded to touch her thighs before she ran out of the room, the report concluded.

Harris allegedly tried the scheme on another girl, but she fled the room before her pants were removed.

School officials say students immediately reported the incident and police were contacted.

Police are searching for a criminal sexual conduct suspect at River City Scholars Academy. (Feb. 2, 2016)
Police are searching for a criminal sexual conduct suspect at River City Scholars Academy. (Feb. 2, 2016)

After police released photos of the suspect, Harris turned himself in and is now charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, child enticement and accosting a child for immoral purposes.

Holly Hillary, interim principal at the school, sent a note to parents the evening of the incident alerting them of the situation.

“As our school continues to support the police in the investigation, we will also conduct an internal review with our safety team to understand how this happened,” Hillary noted. “The safety and security of our students is a priority and we do not take the responsibility to protect and education them lightly.”

On Monday, 24 Hour News 8 reached out to National Heritage Academies which charters River City Scholars and requested an interview with the schools’ CEO, Harry “Chip” Hurlburt. As of late Monday night, officials had not responded to that request.

They did release an email statement that called the case a “matter of great importance” and touted the security measures the school has in place.

“We have security cameras at the school and we were able to provide police photos from that system. We also have a double-lock entry system and a visitor management system in place at the school.” National Heritage Academies spokesperson Jennifer Hoff said in the Monday statement. “Of course foremost in our minds are the affected students, and they are our priority.  We are going to do a thorough review of our security procedures with outside security experts.”

Harris was on probation following a guilty plea in 2014 in connection to threatening a girlfriend with a knife. A judge sentenced him to nine months in jail and four years of probation.

Harris’ criminal history dates back to 2012, when he pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon, according to court records obtained by 24 Hour News 8.

He remains in the Kent County Jail and expected back in court on Feb. 25.


The full statement from NHA:

“As you know, this is a matter of great importance and we continue to work with police. We have security cameras at the school and we were able to provide police photos from that system. We also have a double-lock entry system and a visitor management system in place at the school. Of course foremost in our minds are the affected students, and they are our priority. We are going to do a thorough review of our security procedures with outside security experts.

“We have maintained ongoing communication with our parents and continue to do so. Thank you for stopping by, and thank you for letting us know you’ve heard from parents with concerns; please direct those parents to us at 1-877-642-7471.

“Please know we are working diligently to complete our review of this incident in as timely a fashion as possible. It is important that it be done thoroughly.”

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