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Former John Howard Society manager accused of demanding sex act for clean urine test

Rod Harris was second in command at the John Howard Society's Newfoundland and Labrador chapter. He was charged late last month with one count of extortion. (Rod Harris/Facebook - image credit)
Rod Harris was second in command at the John Howard Society's Newfoundland and Labrador chapter. He was charged late last month with one count of extortion. (Rod Harris/Facebook - image credit)

A former manager at a high-profile prisoners' advocacy organization is accused of threatening to fail a man's urine test if he didn't provide him with sexual gratification.

According to court documents, Rod Harris, formerly the second in command at the provincial chapter of the John Howard Society, has been charged with one count of extortion while working at a halfway house in St. John's.

The alleged victim is currently an inmate at Her Majesty's Penitentiary, and can't be identified due to a publication ban.

Harris was the John Howard Society's director of programs and operations at the time.

John Howard Society executive director Cindy Murphy refused an interview request. In an emailed statement, she confirmed Harris left the organization in the summer of 2021.

"While we cannot comment on the details, we can say that any breach of the JHS policies or code of conduct by any person is taken very seriously," she wrote.

"We became aware of such a breach and acted upon it immediately."

The John Howard Society is "committed to ensuring the privacy and well being of all of our clients," Murphy continued. "That is our utmost priority."

Murphy would not comment further on the breach, or answer questions sent by text and email about the validity of any other urine tests conducted by Harris.

Harris's lawyer, Jon Noonan, declined to comment, but said in an emailed statement that "Mr. Harris looks forward to having a full opportunity to respond to the allegations through a fair trial process in which he is presumed innocent."

Harris was listed as an instructor of criminology with Academy Canada after his departure, and currently works as a mortgage agent.

Harris is scheduled to appear in provincial court May 31. He has not yet entered a plea on the extortion charge.

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