Rush County fireman, special deputy charged with child sex crimes

A Rush County law enforcement official who works with the sheriff’s department and Rushville Fire Department has been charged with sex crimes against children.

Philip Michael Harr, 29, appeared in federal court Thursday on criminal counts of sexual exploitation of a child and distributing and possessing child pornography, according to the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office. Harr, of Rushville, served as a Rush County special sheriff’s deputy and a Rushville fireman.

According to a news release from U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler, Harr allegedly used a social media app to pose as a teenage girl and solicit sexually explicit photos and videos of two minor victims, one in Indiana and one in Mississippi. He also allegedly used the app to distribute, receive and possess photos and videos of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Minkler’s office further alleges Harr engaged in criminal conduct while on duty and abused his position of public trust by using a law enforcement database to search for one of his minor victims.

“Public officials are entrusted to perform their work duties and to serve the community without committing criminal conduct on the job,” Minkler said in a Thursday statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to identifying and prosecuting individuals who utilize social media and other vehicles to exploit innocent children.”

Harr’s case was investigated by the FBI and the Rush County Sheriff’s Department.

“Officers worked tirelessly to bring charges against Mr. Harr and seek justice for his victims,” a sheriff’s department spokesperson said in a statement.

According to assistant U.S. attorney Tiffany J. Preston, the prosecutor on the case, Harr could serve 15 to 30 years if he is convicted on all counts.

The Indianapolis FBI is urging those who think they may be a victim of Harr to contact its office to submit a tip online or call 317-595-4000.

Online court records do not yet list information about Harr’s case, including whether he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

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