Former youth leader pleads guilty to having sex with locked-up boys

Butler County Juvenile Rehabilitation Center
Butler County Juvenile Rehabilitation Center

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - A woman who was entrusted with helping young men convicted of crimes get their lives back on-track admits she had sex with at least three boys who'd been locked-up, FOX19 has confirmed. 33-year-old Amber Marie Harris of Fairfield worked inside the Butler County Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in various capacities from May 2002 to July 2011, when she was fired for missing too much work, according to Juvenile Justice Center director Rob Clevenger.

It wasn't until June of this year that authorities realized too many absences may have not been her biggest fault. That's when a staff member at the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center, a separate facility at the same address, overheard two of the young people incarcerated there talking about an inappropriate relationship involving Harris, according to Clevenger.

"These allegations were related to actions which occurred sometime in early/mid 2011," Clevenger wrote in an e-mail to FOX19, while the boys were on "home passes." Sheriff's investigators then began looking into the claims. In a judicial system that usually moves at a glacial pace, Harris pleaded guilty quickly --- yesterday.

FOX19 learned that most recently, Harris has been working at the Beech Acres Parenting Center in Cincinnati.

"Although there was no indication of any issue with her work while employed at Beech Acres, she was immediately placed on leave as soon as we learned of the investigation," said spokeswoman Susan Wiesemann. "At that point, she had no access to clients."

Now that she's pleaded guilty, Wiesemann says Harris and Beech Acres have parted ways.

Harris is not in custody right now, according to Butler County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Craft, and there does not appear to be a mugshot of her. Craft says that Harris may not have been required to take one. She's due in court October 1 for sentencing.

Her titles at the juvenile rehab center varied. In 2006, she was a case manager, which most people would think of as a "counselor," Clevenger said. During the time in 2011 when she had the inappropriate relationships with the boys, she was a part-time youth leader, the same role she had when she was fired that year.

Butler County's juvenile rehabilitation center is a secure facility that houses youth felony offenders from Butler, Clermont, Clinton, and Warren Counties. According to its website, its mission is to provide programs for youth offenders such as "victim empathy and cognitive restructuring, along with offense specific programming for sex offenders and youth with chemical dependency issues."

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved.