Former pastor’s conviction upheld


ROCHESTER — A state appeals court has upheld the conviction against a pastor serving a 15-year prison term for sexually assaulting two of his grandchildren.

Roy D. Harriger, 78, claimed he was denied effective legal counsel during his January 2015 trial on numerous counts of sexual assault.

The state Appellate Division, Fourth Department ruled Friday that Harriger’s representation was sufficient and found no basis for his claims.

Harriger claimed that his attorney, Larry Koss, “elicited evidence of uncharged acts of sexual abuse and other prior bad acts.”

“Given the nature of this case,” the court ruled, “including the lack of any viable defense beyond attacking the credibility of the People’s witnesses, we conclude that defense counsel’s attempt to cast doubt on the allegations of the witnesses by making those allegations seem almost too incredible to be true reflects a reasonable and legitimate strategy under the circumstances and evidence presented.”

The court also noted that the jury acquitted Harriger on charges relating to a third victim, concluding that the acquittal proves Harriger was afforded “Meaningful representation.”

Harriger also sought to have one charge dismissed because of a lack of evidence. The court denied that request.

Harriger is serving a 15-year term at Wende Correctional Facility and is not eligible for parole until 2027.

Harriger, who a judge called “disturbed and depraved,” served most of his life as a pastor at churches in Michigan, Pennsylvania and at Ashwood Wesleyan Church in Yates, Orleans County.

In 2017, Harriger was sentenced to two-to-five years for molesting a child while serving as pastor of a church in Mercer County from 1991 to 1997.

That term is concurrent with the New York term, meaning no extra time will have to be served.

Harriger also made news in 2019 when he won a lawsuit against the state for a brutal beating inflicted upon him by corrections officer at Attica Correctional Facility, where Harriger was first housed.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1