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Minister gets 60 years for raping teen

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 10 (UPI) -- A 65-year-old South Florida minister has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for molesting a teenage boy.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, prosecutors urged the maximum 80-year term for the Rev. James Harris, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. His lawyer, citing Harris's previously unblemished life, asked for the 16-year minimum.

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Given his age, Harris will probably die behind bars.

Until a 15-year-old boy charged that Harris lured him into sex, the minister was a community leader and local success story in Belle Glade, an impoverished farming community in the Everglades. He grew up there, went to college and then returned as a minister.

"He was a reverend, a politician and a supporter of teenage boys having the dream to play professional football," Assistant State Attorney Chrichet B. Mixon wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "However, Harris' most suitable title is that of a master manipulator."

Mixon said Harris told his victim he had contacts that would be useful in his pursuit of a football career.

Christopher Haddad, Harris' lawyer, asked the court to consider Harris' achievements.

Harris was convicted in August.

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