GRAY, Tenn. - A carnival worker is facing charges after police say he committed statutory rape with a juvenile at the Appalachian fairgrounds. Police say the worker also helped the juvenile runaway from home and supplied her with marijuana.
The Appalachian Fair is where families bring their children to have fun and enjoy time outside, but police say this year one carnival worker was charged with aggravated statutory rape. "It's very rare, very rare at the fair for something like this to happen," says Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff Ed Graybeal.
Graybeal tells us 29-year-old Harold House of Johnson City was taking up tickets at one of the rides at the fair, and that's where the victim met him. Graybeal says they met several times at the ride before changing phone numbers and meeting. "He drove to her residence and she snuck out of her house. He picked her up and they went back to the fairgrounds and conversed for a little while," adds Washington County, Tennessee investigator Jared Taylor.
Taylor tells us the two continued to talk. He says that's when the juvenile decided to runway with House and either travel with the carnival or live somewhere with him. "They discussed that he was going to rent property somewhere and they were going to live together, or they were going to move into his mother's residence," says Taylor.
Taylor says House picked up the victim after work and helped her run away. The victim left a note for her parents, and that's when they reported her missing. "He basically took me to his vehicle to see if the juvenile victim was in his car, and that's where we found her. She was laying in the backseat asleep," adds Taylor.
Fair manager Phil Booher tells us it's not the fairs responsibility to hire people to work the rides, but it's the company that brings the rides in; in this case, that company was Drew Exposition. "James H. Drew hired him locally and of course they do a background check, a criminal check, and a drug test at that time before they hired him," says Booher.
The juvenile was returned to her parents. House was charged with eight counts of aggravated statutory rape and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for helping her run away and providing her with marijuana.
Graybeal tells us House had two outstanding warrants for his arrest for traffic violations.
House's bond was set at $200,000. At last check he is still in the Washington County Detention Center.