Keith Harp receives 12 years for molesting young boy

Harp faced 25 counts in Parsippany and Maryland

A New Road resident who initially accused his victim of being “a pathological liar” was sentenced Friday, August 1 to 12 years in prison for repeatedly molesting the boy over a six-year period, according to the Daily Record.

Morris County Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz told defendant Keith William Harp, 46, that the only reason he accepted the plea bargain was to spare the 15 year old victim and his family the trauma of a trial.

“This defendant has to understand that his lack of self-control, his lack of a moral center, his lack of moral values and his predatory behavior comes with significant consequences,” Minkowitz said. He had rejected a defense argument that Harp receive a 10-year sentence, according to the Daily Record.

Minkowitz said “You caused everlasting scarring for this child, not to mention the collateral effects for his family. You committed this brutal attack on a child over and over and over again.”

Morris-County-Courthouse
Morris County Courthouse

Harp was initially being held on $225,000 bail in Morris County Jail after he was charged in May 2013 with sexually assaulting the boy over a seven-year period. At that time the Judge ordered Harp to have no contact with the alleged victim or with anyone else under the age of 16.

Keith W. Harp committed the acts in Parsippany and in Carroll County, MD, according to an affidavit signed by Morris County Prosecutor’s Sgt. Anthony DeVincenzo.

The boy said he had been sexually assaulted “on numerous occasions” in both locations between 2006 and 2013.

In a phone conversation recorded April 4, 2013 Harp told the boy, “I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt you” and “I’ll stop,” and also asked, “Do you want me to get in trouble? Do you want me to go to jail?” according to the affidavit.

He was charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault, two counts of child endangerment and one count each of aggravated criminal sexual contact and sexual assault, in Morris County.

Harp faced 17 charges in Maryland along with eight charges in Morris County. He was released on bail in Maryland after being arrested there in April, 2013.

Harp pleaded guilty in January 2014 to one count of aggravated sexual assault on the boy, which encompassed acts of sexual abuse committed between 2006 and 2013. He was evaluated at the state’s Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel and found to be a compulsive and repetitive sex offender eligible for treatment at that prison facility, according to the Daily Record.

His sentence according to the plea bargin is to serve 10 years and nearly four months before any parole consideration. Upon release, he must register with police as a convicted sex offender and will be supervised on parole for life.

He also previously pleaded guilty in three counties in Maryland. He was given a suspended 25-year prison term in one county and placed on probation — meaning he wasn’t imprisoned there — and is awaiting sentencing in the other two counties. The only  time he will serve behind bars will be on the New Jersey conviction.

Defense lawyer Robert Schwartz called Harp “a broken man who has accepted responsibility for his acts.” He said that Harp himself was sexually abused as a child and genuinely feels remorse for his crimes.

Morris County Assistant Prosecutor LaJuan Tucker read a letter written by the victim, who said he thinks about suicide, feels unworthy and full of self-loathing. Tucker also read letters from other relatives, who asked for a long sentence but said they also would have helped Harp get psychological treatment if they knew — before the molestations — that he was attracted to young children.

The victim wrote that he frequently stays indoors to play video games: “They help me block out the pain he caused me,” he said in his letter. He also wrote that he is struggling in school. “It’s a constant reminder of how stupid and useless I feel,” he wrote.

Tucker noted that Harp, despite his guilty plea, still appears to lack insight into why he caused the abuse. She said that when Harp was accused last year, he told the victim he enjoyed engaging in the acts.

Editors note: Parts of this story were taken from reports printed in the Daily Record.

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