Roy Harriger, a 79-year-old New York pastor convicted of raping two of his grandchildren and allegedly sexually abusing his oldest son and his sister, can now collect $2 million from the state for beatings he received at Attica Correctional Facility.
Harriger was convicted of two out of three counts of course of sexual conduct against his grandchildren and sentenced in 2015 to 15 years in state prison.
Sexual conduct against a child in the first degree, according to New York State law, is defined as when an adult perpetrator 18 years or older "engages in two or more acts of sexual conduct which includes at least one act of sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or aggravated sexual contact, with a child less than thirteen (13) years old" "over a period of time not less than three months in duration."
Harriger was sent to Attica and was there briefly when the assaults occured, Livingston County News reported.
The disgraced pastor, who reportedly carried out the acts of abuse on his grandchildren in 2000 and 2001 when he led Ashwood Wesleyan Church in Lyndonville, sued the State of New York and won in 2019.
On Nov. 24, 2020, he was awarded $1.75 million for past pain and suffering and $250,000 for future pain and suffering in court.
The state challenged the award. But on Friday, the state Appellate Division, Fourth Department of the New York Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the judgment, according to Livingston County News.
Court documents show that Harriger testified that corrections officers at Attica made it clear to him that they knew the nature of his conviction during the 16-day period before the assault.
In April 2015, the Orleans Hub reported that Orleans County Court Judge James Punch called Harriger "a wolf in shepherd's clothing."
During his trial in January of that year, three of Harriger's grandchildren testified that he sexually abused them. The then 71-year-old pastor denied the allegations.
"I did nothing of this sort," said Harriger.
Many members of Harriger's congregation from Community Fellowship Church in Hartland, where he served at the time of his trial, supported him. However, Judge Punch said a jury of the pastor's peers decided unanimously that he had molested two of his grandchildren after listening to testimony and reviewing the evidence against him.
"I have no quarrel with the verdict of the jury," Punch said in 2015. "Twelve people in a jury of your peers unanimously found you guilty of very disturbing and depraved acts to very young victims who were your grandchildren."
Harriger allegedly used his position as pastor and leader in his family to silence his victims.
"The bullying, the use of charisma, the power of your personality were all brought forward to victimize these children and keep them quiet," Punch said. "One could say you were a wolf in sheep's clothing, but you are a wolf in shepherd's clothing and that's much worse."
After the sentencing, Harriger's oldest son, George, and his sister, Nona Blackchief, told reporters that they, too, had been abused by the pastor.
"Justice was definitely served, but I feel he got a light sentencing," George Harriger said. "But he is finally behind bars.
"I wish he would have admitted it, and said he was sorry," he explained. "My kids deserve it, my nieces and nephews deserve it, my aunt and everybody deserves an apology. He needs to own up to it."
Blackchief said she was abused by her brother when she was a girl. She noted that "this has been going on for over 60 years."
Harriger stated in court documents that correctional officers made him believe they wanted him to commit suicide. He said he was deprived of food for 72 hours and faced threatening notes with a razor and sheet to take his life.
In the time leading up to the assault, which occurred on May 15, 2013, Harriger said he rarely left his cell and never took showers. He went to eat with the other inmates only once and only left his cell for visits and recreation, never going to the showers or meals in the time leading up to the assault.
He said that around 10:30 a.m. on the day of the assault, a correctional officer announced the prison was in lockdown during an orientation class. Harriger, who walks with a cane, was called to leave the room and offered protective custody.
As he was being escorted, the disgraced pastor said an officer slammed his head against a wall and told him to hold the position for 15 minutes. Harriger said on his way back to his cell, he was hit twice in the back of the neck, which caused him to fall and lose consciousness. The beatings allegedly left the pastor confined to a wheelchair and left him with right-side paralysis, facial drooping and speech problems.