GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man accused of criminal sexual conduct against two elementary school girls said he was innocent of the charges against him in a jailhouse interview with 24 Hour News 8.
Jalen Harris, 22, is accused of walking into River City Scholars Charter school in Grand Rapids and preying on the girls. Police testified before a judge that Harris told the victims he was sent by their mothers to get their pant sizes.
Police say the first girl went with him into a private room and Harris removed her pants and touched her thigh before she left the room and told an adult. They say he then did the same thing with another girl but didn’t get her pants off before she too left the room and told a school official.
“No, that’s not what happened… I’m saying she’s lying,” Harris told 24 Hour News 8 emphatically and repeatedly during the 25-minute video conference interview from the Kent County jail. “It wasn’t nothing how they try to make me seem. I’m not a bad person like that.”
Harris admitted he had no business at River City Scholars, but said he went to the school by mistake. He claims he was supposed to be delivering a message to his school-aged cousin at nearby Dickinson Elementary School. He says he was going there to tell her to ascertain her friend’s bathing suit sizes.
He said the family is planning a pool party and that another family member told him to deliver a message to the little girl. He never articulated why the family supposedly needed the size information and refused to identify the family members involved.
“I see how it looks odd,” Harris said. “But like I said, the accusations is false.”
Harris turned himself in after his image was released to local media by police the day of the incident.
“I turned myself in to basically clear my name,” Harris said. “I am innocent.”
Harris says he got into River City Scholars by walking through the front door.
“I was going to get buzzed in but this little guy opened the door for me,” Harris said. “I admit that I should’ve stopped in the office and stuff like that. It would’ve been probably a totally different outcome.”
He said he opted against going to the front office because he never has to check in at his son’s school. He claims he was even greeted by a school staff member.
“They said good morning,” he said of the staffer.
Harris said he believes he’ll be exonerated as his case makes its way through the justice system.
“I’m not a harmful guy,” he said. “I’m thinking straight to the point. I haven’t done nothing. I want to get this investigated.”