ABBEVILLE, La. (KLFY) – It’s a case that can only be described as disturbing. James Harber, a seventh grade teacher at J. H. Williams middle school in Abbeville is behind bars for one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape of three children left in his care by a woman he had a relationship with.
Police say the victims along with four other children have been placed in the custody of child protective services. Police are still trying to locate the victims mother, who had a relationship with Harber. Lieutenant David Hardy with the Abbeville Police Department says investigators found a computer and electronic devices containing child pornography at Harber’s house.
“It kind of appeared as if he was OCD. Everything was in its place. The investigation really wasn’t hard it was just disturbing because it involved children. It’s not something you come across everyday (child pornography).”
Police were tipped off by the Vermilion Parish School Board. It’s unknown where the minors went to school but Lt. Hardy says the investigation shows the incidents happened at Harber’s house.
“The school board acted properly. They notified us as soon as they received the allegations. They removed him from the school. Nothing in our investigation leads us to believe anything happened at the school.”
Superintendent Jerome Puyau says school employees are mandated by law to immediately contact the Department of Children and Family Services and local law enforcement if child abuse is suspected.
“The moment it was made aware to us, we reported it to the authorities. Our teachers, our counselors, our administrators are very caring. They listen and they do report and we take the safety of the ten thousand students across Vermilion Parish very seriously.”
The Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office is also pursuing charges against Harber. Federal law enforcement has been contacted. If they pursue charges, Harber could face counts of child pornography for every photo, video or piece of evidence authorities find. Harber is not originally from Abbeville, so police plan to reach out to other places where Harber lived to see if there are other victims or cases of child pornography.
A Vermilion Parish middle school teacher is accused of raping minors, according to the Abbeville Police Department.
James Harber, 31, of Abbeville, is currently in the parish jail on one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape. His bond has been set at $300,000.
Harber is a seventh-grade teacher at J.H. Williams Middle School, according to the school’s website.
Lt. David Hardy said Harber was on administrative leave from the Vermilion Parish School District when police began investigating him.
Harber has been removed from the staff listing of the school’s website.
All of the victims are minors and siblings, according to Hardy.
The police spokesperson told News 10 the three victims were left in Harber’s care by a woman whom he was once had a “relationship” with.
The victims and their four other siblings have since been taken into the custody of the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services.
Police obtained a warrant and searched Harber’s residence and collected evidence.
Abbeville Police shared the evidence with the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office, which is now seeking additional charges against Harber.
Police also reached out to federal law enforcement officials to pursue federal charges against Harber, including child pornography.
KLFY’s Lydia Magallanes will have a full report on News 10 at 5 & 6 p.m.