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Charges against former sheriff dropped

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Aug 07 2013 11:51:25 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 06 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

A former sheriff once accused of breaking the law multiple times is now free of all charges.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. -

A former sheriff once accused of breaking the law multiple times is now free of all charges.

On Tuesday, District Attorney Tony Clark announced he will no longer pursue the remaining charges filed against former Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris.

News 5 sat down with Harris Wednesday to find out what life has been like for the past few years and how he's moving on.

It's a different life now for former Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris. Miles away from the county he once served on his new farm in Washington County, he said his life is peaceful, but it might never be the same. "A good name is something you build up for years. Unfortunately, mine was torn down in a matter of a few days," Harris told News 5.

In October of 2011, Harris was indicted on charges of six counts of official misconduct, theft, criminal simulation, attempted aggravated assault, and tampering with evidence, after being on medical leave following a severe accident. "I was in the hospital for a year. [I] come back home and all this was going on," said Harris.

After three trials, including two hung juries and one judge acquittal,  Harris was never found guilty.

To this day, he told us he maintains his innocence. "I'm not guilty. I was not guilty of the ones we've been to court on," Harris emphasized.

In fact, Harris believes there's more to this story than meets the eye. "In my opinion, the charges were brought against me to make sure I would not be able to continue as sheriff of Unicoi County and someone else could have that job," said Harris.

District Attorney Tony Clark stated in a press release that he was doing his job by prosecuting the former sheriff after a grand jury unanimously voted to indict Harris.

Clark said that although the public may never have all questions answered, given the outcomes of the trials, it's time to move on.

Harris agrees with the forward-looking attitude, hoping to let the past stay behind him. "I have forgiven these people for doing me wrong, but it is hard," Harris said.

We asked the sheriff if there are any other legal battles in the future, this time pertaining to civil matters. Harris declined to comment.