Harrell still a fugitive, trial suspended

Photo courtesy of Kent State University

Hannah Armenta

Willie J. Harrell, Jr., a former Kent State English professor who was arrested last year with a 15-year-old in his car, is still a fugitive, although his location remains unknown. 

Harrell was arrested Aug. 28. 2015, after he was caught meeting with a 15-year-old boy in the parking lot of Smith Elementary School in Akron with the intent to pursue a sexual relationship.

The Summit County Court of Common Pleas issued a warrant in January for Harrell’s arrest.

“Mr. Harrell is currently a fugitive from justice, but we are confident he will be located and arrested,” said James Pollack, director of communications for the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office. “When he is returned to Summit County, we will prosecute the case.”

Harrell’s lawyer, Kevin J. Breen, requested to be taken off Harrell’s case in January. His request was approved on Jan. 8, 2016.

Breen has had no contact with Harrell since Nov. 16, 2015, according to a court document.

Harrell is charged with two felonies: Importuning and attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. He is also charged with violating adult curfew, a misdemeanor.

University spokesperson Eric Mansfield confirmed Harrell was terminated from the university. He taught at the university for 12 years.

Altisource, a rental property agency, searched Harrell’s home and believes no one is living there.

Harrell’s original trial was set for Jan. 21. However, according to a court document, the case has been removed from the court’s pending case list for “termination by reason of unavailability for trial.”

Breen and Seema Misra, assistant prosecuting attorney with the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, appeared in court Jan. 11 for the final pretrial.

Harrell was caught trying to flee to Canada in November but was stopped at the border. He told Canadian authorities he was trying to flee the country to avoid prosecution in his case in Summit County Pleas Court.

Harrell pleaded not guilty and posted bond in September of last year.

In 2014, Provost Todd Diacon named Harrell the provost’s fellow for 2014-2015.

Contact Hannah Armenta at [email protected]