A Rio woman has been charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child as a persistent repeater, which immediately followed a case with three counts of failure to update sex offender registry information.
Lindsey Harwood, 35, appeared in Columbia County Circuit Court on Tuesday facing three felony counts of registry violation, each carrying up to six years in prison.
“There are three counts charged and there probably could be many more,” said Assistant District Attorney Crystal Long, outlining that Harwood has been on the registry since 2005 and on probation since 2009, and a prior conviction for the same offense in 2014. “She was non-compliant with registry for three months this particular time and specialists made several attempts to contact her by phone or by mail.”
Authorities were able to contact her by phone at which point Harwood allegedly said that there was a problem with the mail. This was followed by a visit by police, who were told that Harwood moved out weeks prior — before the earlier conversation had happened.
“My suspicion is that the reason why she didn’t tell them she was living at that residence is that there was a 14-year-old girl living there,” said Long, “and tomorrow I will be filing charges for sexual assault of that child as a persistent repeater, which is a lifetime incarceration.”
The girl had told authorities, Long said, that Harwood had made comments about planning on changing her name and moving to Texas, Kansas, California or Colorado once the child turned 18.
“This is obviously somewhat of a strange circumstance,” said Judge W. Andrew Voigt. “We are only talking here — and I say ‘only’ loosely — on charges the defendant is presently facing and not the charges that Ms. Long alluded to that are likely to come tomorrow.”
Harwood appeared in court again on Wednesday on charges of repeated sexual assault of a child as a persistent repeater and sexual assault of a child under 16 as a persistent repeater, each carrying the possibility of life without parole.
Between August 2016 and April 2017 Harwood lived in the upstairs of a town of Lewiston house and a woman and her 14-year-old daughter lived in the downstairs. Following Harwood’s eviction in April, they shared the downstairs area. The mother reported to authorities that they had gotten along and that Harwood had seemed to be, “as an aunt” according to the girl. Something appeared to be wrong more recently, according to the mother, as the girl’s grades dropped in the third quarter of school.
What began with requests for massages reportedly escalated over time with the girl telling investigators with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office that sexual contact between the two began in January and continued until Harwood abruptly moved out in the middle of April. She later was located by authorities at a Rio residence.
Harwood was convicted of second-degree sexual assault on Dec. 22, 2005, following an incident in November 2004, receiving a withheld sentence and four years on probation.
“There is little question that these are serious allegations with serious consequences for a fairly important reason,” said Voigt in the first of the two hearings. “The point, obviously, of a sex offender registry in the first place is, as Ms. Long indicated, is to try to keep the world advised about the location of people who have been convicted of this type of offense to avoid future victimization. If it’s not that, I don’t know what the point of a sex offender registry would be.”
On Wednesday, Voigt ordered Harwood to be held in jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bond.