LARGO, Fla. (FOX 13) - A former juvenile detention officer was arrested for having sexual contact with multiple teenagers at a state-run facility in Pinellas County, according to the sheriff's office.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced the arrest of 27-year-old Joshua Harrison during a Tuesday afternoon press conference. He said a state investigation is now underway.
Harrison is accused of “grooming” and then sexually battering at least three 17-year-old boys at the facility. Arrest records say Harrison, while working the night shift, entered the cells of teens and offered food, cell phones, and prescription medication in exchange for sexual acts.
Gualtieri said two other officers at the facility witnessed Harrison entering the cells of the teens when he wasn’t supposed to. Neither reported the activity.
Officials with the Department of Juvenile Justice say they are in the process of terminating another employee in connection with the case, and other staff members could also face disciplinary action.
Harrison was fired by the state on Feb. 4.
DJJ released the following statement to FOX 13:
“The Department of Juvenile Justice does not tolerate victimization of children in the agency's care, and we expect this individual will be zealously prosecuted for his reprehensible actions. DJJ will ensure the youth involved receive the therapy and other services necessary to address the trauma they have suffered because of this predator. I also have directed my staff to explore screening tools to help us reduce the likelihood of anything like this happening again.”