Tuesday, March 03, 1987

Case of David Harrington

Case of David Harrington
(AKA: David Barry Harrington, Barry Brown, Barry Harrington, David Brown)

 Montgomery County's Big Brother of the Year for 1985-86 - Maryland

Principal - Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington High School, Silver Springs, MD
Headmaster - McLean School of Maryland, Potomac, MD
Teacher - Calverton School, Huntington, MD
Teacher - High School, Burlington, VT
Litchfield County, CT

Huntington, MD

Washington DC
Owner - Youth Travel Service, Germantown, MD

Gaithersburg, MD

The principal of Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington high school and leader of the Washington area Big Brothers program plead guilty in 1987 to six counts of child abuse. He had previously plead guilty to a 1969 child abuse charge in Connecticut and had been under investigation in Vermont on further charges in 1970. He faked his own death in 1970 to avoid charges.

Harrington moved to Florida, changed his middle name from Barry to Brown and altered his date of birth by 10 days, and got new Social Security number . Such facts made it difficult for police to connect Harrington through computers to his Connecticut conviction record, police said.

Despite this he would continue to work with children for 2 more decades. Officials of Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington high school and of the area Big Brothers program failed to turn up his conviction in their background checks on Harrington. 

Harrington was even honored by President Reagan at a White House reception in 1986.


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Table of Contents:

  1. Md. Principal Charged With Molesting Boy  (03/03/1987)
  2. Police Link Md. Principal To 1969 Child Abuse Case; Man Believed to Have Changed Identity (03/04/1987)
  3. More Job Screening Is Urged; Child Protectors Eye case in Montgomery (03/05/1987)
  4. School Files Subpoenaed In Maryland Sex Abuse Case (03/06/1987)
  5. 3 Molestation Charges Added Against Maryland Principal (03/07/1987)
  6. Suspected Molester's Van Found at Shopping Mall; Police Widen Search for Principal (03/09/1987)
  7. DATELINE: HYATTSVILLE, Md. (03/10/1987)
  8. Police search New York City for Harrington (03/11/1987)
  9. Fugitive in Molestation Case Possibly Boarded N.Y. Flight (03/11/1987)
  10. Tracking the Child Molesters (03/11/1987)
  11. DATELINE: WARWICK, R.I. (03/17/1987)
  12. Sex Case Suspect Misses Hearing (04/04/1987)
  13. Harrington Surrenders In Sex Case; Ex-Principal Held On $ 3 Million Bond (04/09/1987)
  14. 'Big Brother' jailed again on molest charges  (04/09/1987)
  15. Fugitive's Odyssey: Caribbean Casinos and Suicidal Despair (04/10/1987)
  16. $7 Million Bond Set for Man In Child Molestation Case (04/10/1987)
  17. Police Use Surveillance To Get Ahead of Crime; Suspects Targeted Before Laws Are Broken  (04/18/1987)
  18. Former Principal Indicted On 5 More Child Abuse Counts (05/01/1987)
  19. Principal's Arrest in Abuse Case Renews Debate (05/06/1987)
  20. Recent Area Cases Challenge Stereotype of Child Molester (05/17/1987)
  21. Accused Molester Charged With Theft (06/13/1987)
  22. Ex-Principal Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse (08/06/1987)
  23. Ex-Principal Guilty of Molesting 6 Teen-Age Boys (08/08/1987)
  24. A Special Case of Discrimination (08/14/1987)
  25. Md. Child Molester Gets 25-Year Term; - Ex-Big Brother Sexually Abused 6 Boys (12/01/1987)
  1. Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services  (01/23/2004)

  1. Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (10/10/2013)
  2. Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (12/28/2013)


Md. Principal Charged With Molesting Boy
By Sari Horwitz, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Washington Post, March 3, 1987

The principal of the high school at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington, a leader in the Washington area Big Brothers program, has been charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old old boy, Mongtomery County police said yesterday.

David Harrington, 43, of 12616 Red Pepper Ct., Germantown, was arrested at his home Saturday and released under $10,000 bond. He could not be reached for comment last night.

Detective James Fitzgibbon of the newly formed Montgomery County pedophile unit said Harrington's arrest followed an investigation of about six weeks.

Rabbi William Altshul, headmaster of the academy in Silver Spring, said Harrington has been placed on administrative leave from his posts as principal and athletic director of the 70-student high school where he has worked since 1980.

Altshul said Harrington is one of four administrators who run the school, whose students are in grades nine through 12.

Academy officials have not been able to contact Harrington since they were notified of his arrest, he said.

Harrington has been prominent in the area's Big Brothers program and was named Big Brother of the Year for Montgomery County in 1985-86. The organization matches fatherless boys with volunteers willing to act as male role models.Fitzgibbon said police never received a formal complaint against Harrington, but began investigating him after being given information by a police officer who had been in contact with him. Fitzgibbon would not elaborate on the information that started the investigation.

Police said the alleged abuse occurred at Harrington's home between December and last month. They said that when the home was searched after Harrington's arrest, investigators found hundreds of pictures of children in various stages of undress.

In addition to his school administrative jobs, Harrington runs and serves as a chaperon for the Independent Schools Travel Association, an organization that sets up ski trips to local resorts, police said.

Rabbi Altshul called Harrington "an exemplary employe from the point of view of dealing with the kids" and said he was "shocked and saddened" by the charge against him.

He said he has "no reason to believe" that any students at the academy had been abused. If convicted of child abuse, Harrington could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

Fitzgibbon said the investigation of the case was continuing. Montgomery County's pedophile investigation unit was created in August after the number of child molestation cases increased, police spokeswoman Ann Evans said. It is believed to be one of only 10 such units nationwide, she said.


Police Link Md. Principal To 1969 Child Abuse Case; Man Believed to Have Changed Identity
By Charles W. Hall
The Washington Post, March 4, 1987

The principal of a private Silver Spring high school who is accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old boy pleaded guilty to a 1969 child abuse charge in Connecticut and then was reported missing and presumed dead in a boating accident less than a year later, Montgomery County police said yesterday.

The man, David Harrington, 43, who is also a leader of the Washington area Big Brothers program, emerged in Florida in 1970 after the apparent accident under an altered name and birth date and a new Social Security number that obscured his past, police said.

Harrington has been principal of the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington high school since 1980, and officials of the academy and of the area Big Brothers program said they had failed to turn up the conviction in their background checks on Harrington.

Sgt. Richard Cage, of the Montgomery County pedophile unit, said investigators here confirmed yesterday through police in southern Vermont that Harrington vanished Aug. 19, 1970, while boating in Lake Champlain. "We feel certain it's the same man," Cage said.

When he moved to Florida, apparently in 1970, Harrington changed his middle name from Barry to Brown and altered his date of birth by 10 days. Such facts made it difficult for police to connect Harrington through computers to his Connecticut conviction record, police said.

Harrington, who moved to the Washington area in 1973 and was named Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year in 1985-86, was arrested Saturday at his home at 12616 Red Pepper Ct., Germantown. He is accused of fondling the boy sexually, according to prosecution documents.

"A lot of the things about the gentleman that are coming to our attention right now would have led us not to accept him," said Willis Johnson, a spokesman for Big Brothers of the National Capital Area.

Johnson said his organization had checked only local criminal records before accepting Harrington as a volunteer. "One of the real significant problems we face is that there is no central bank we can use listing individuals" convicted in child abuse cases, Johnson said. "People can hop from state to state and we never catch up with them."

Harrington also was sentenced to two years' probation in a 1985 theft case that involved stolen computers, according to District Court records in Montgomery County. Johnson said Big Brothers, which checked Harrington's background when he joined the organization in 1979, had not learned of that case, either.

According to records at Litchfield County Superior Court in Connecticut, Harrington was charged with three counts of risk of injury, described by Connecticut court officials as a child abuse statute, and three counts of indecent assault.

After he pleaded guilty to one count of risk of injury, the remaining charges were dropped, according to court records. In December 1969, Harrington, who was then a 26-year-old math teacher at a school in Burlington, Vt., was sentenced to 30 days in the county jail and 18 months' probation, a police source said.

Court officials were unable to provide details about the case.

Rabbi William Altshul, headmaster at the Hebrew Academy in Silver Spring, said the 70 students at the high school are "understandably very broken up." He said the school had brought in a psychologist to help youngsters cope with their anxiety over Harrington's arrest.

Harrington, who was released on $ 10,000 bond, could not be reached for comment. He has been placed on administrative leave by the school, where he has worked since 1980.

Johnson said Big Brothers, which matches fatherless boys with volunteers willing to act as role models, checks references and conducts psychological screening of applicants. He said there have been three cases in 15 years in which a local Big Brother was arrested in a sex abuse case.


By Charles W. Hall, Washington Post Staff Writer
Washington Post - March 5, 1987, Thursday, Final Edition

As Montgomery County police continued to untangle the mysterious past of David Harrington, a private school principal charged with molesting a child, child protection specialists said yesterday that new laws expanding the use of nationwide background checks might have prevented the case by exposing his past record.

One such law, passed last year in Maryland, requires fingerprints and background checks of school and day care employes, and allows volunteer organizations such as Big Brothers to check applicants through the FBI's computer bank containing 23 million criminal fingerprint records.

Harrington, principal of the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington in Silver Spring and a Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year, was arrested Saturday at his Germantown home and accused of molesting a 14-year-old boy.

Background checks by the area Big Brothers program failed to reveal that Harrington was convicted in a 1969 child abuse case in Connecticut, and that Harrington had altered his middle name, his date of birth and his Social Security number in what police described as an effort to obscure his record.

"If we had processed Mr. Harrington's prints, that might have surfaced," said Willis Johnson, a spokesman for the area Big Brothers.

Experts say fewer than 10 states enable organizations such as Big Brothers to apply to law enforcement agencies to conduct nationwide criminal background checks. They say there is no guarantee Harrington's conviction records would have been revealed.

But William Garvie, section chief of the FBI's identification division in Washington, said that by using fingerprints his agency is usually able to detect attempts by convicts to falsify personal data, such as names and dates of birth, that police use to check criminal records.
Harrington, who disappeared and was presumed dead in what appeared to be a 1970 boating accident in Vermont, emerged in Florida with a new middle name and slightly altered date of birth. Those alterations confused early attempts by Montgomery police to trace his conviction record, investigation sources said.

"If a person tries to deceive us and gives us the wrong name, as long as we have the fingerprints, we'll get them," Garvie said.

Sgt. Kathi Rhodes said interviews with potential victims were likely to take weeks. "The number of people he had contact with is phenomenal," she said. Police say Harrington has worked with hundreds of youths at the Greater Hebrew Academy of Washington, and through a travel agency, Independent Schools Travel Association, through which he arranged ski trips for youngsters.

Police said yesterday the investigation was continuing, but no new charges have been filed. They said they had interviewed 10 youngsters, including five to whom Harrington had been a Big Brother. Officials said he met the 14-year-old through the program, which matches hundreds of fatherless boys with volunteers willing to serve as role models.

Big Brothers is now requiring applicants in Maryland to submit fingerprints as part of the background checks, Johnson said.

The District and Virginia do not fingerprint new school employes and so are unable to check criminal records of applicants in other jurisdictions, spokesmen said. Johnson said the area Big Brothers would lobby the District and Virginia to give his organization access to the FBI checks.

Howard Davidson, director of the American Bar Association National Legal Resource Center for Child Advocacy and Protection, cautioned that nationwide checks are not a foolproof system.

He said that although the FBI receives reports of all arrests, states are less thorough in notifying the FBI of criminal convictions. He also said there was no guarantee that sex offenders would have previous convictions, especially because cases involving children are often hard to prosecute.

Still, he said he favored the checks. "The overall message we need to give as a society is that we're providing every possible means to protect our children."

Staff writer Beth Kaiman contributed to this report.


By Charles W. Hall, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Washington Post, March 6, 1987

Montgomery police investigators subpoenaed records yesterday from a Silver Spring private school in an attempt to piece together the 17-year odyssey of sex abuse case defendant David B. Harrington. But they said they remain baffled by his travels when he disappeared in 1970 after faking his own drowning during the investigation of a Vermont molestation case.

Harrington, the 43-year-old high school principal at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, so successfully obscured his past that his parents had assumed he died in 1970, when his boat was found washed up on an island in Lake Champlain near Shelburne, Vt., a family friend said yesterday.

"We had no idea that he was alive," said Howard McReading of Warwick, R.I., a former neighbor who has kept touch with the parents, Robert and Ann Harrington, who also live in Warwick. Ann Harrington refused to discuss the case yesterday, citing advice from her lawyer.

David Harrington, who is a former Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year, is free on $ 10,000 bond and has not been seen by police since he was arrested at his Germantown home Saturday and charged with child abuse. He is accused of sexually fondling a 14-year-old boy.

On Aug. 18, 1970, Harrington, then a 26-year-old high school mathematics teacher, vanished, one day before he was to take a polygraph examination in connection with a child molestation case, according to Frank Thornton, acting chief of the Shelburne Police Department. Vermont police records show that two youngsters complained to police that Harrington had offered them money to "give him a rubdown."

The Vermont investigation came less than a year after Harrington was sentenced to a month in jail on a 1969 Connecticut child abuse charge.

After his Vermont disappearance, Harrington turned up in Miami where he worked briefly as a cabana attendant, according to a beach club spokesman.

In personnel records examined by police yesterday at the Hebrew Academy, Harrington made no mention of his time in Florida, said Detective Richard Cage of the Montgomery County police pedophile unit. According to the records, Harrington said he worked at Burlington (Vt.) High School until June 1969, more than six months after he had actually resigned from the school at the time he pleaded guilty to the child abuse charge.

The records said his next job began in September 1971 at the Calverton School in Huntington, Md. 

According to the records, he then went on to serve as headmaster at the McLean School of Maryland, a private girls' school in Potomac, before joining the Hebrew Academy in 1980.

Police have not had contact with Harrington since his release on Saturday. Cage added that Harrington has been in touch with a friend and that "we think he's still in the area."

Nick Pantazes, a Rockville bail bondsman who posted Harrington's bond, said he has not talked with Harrington since Saturday. "I'm just as much in the blind as everyone else. My sense is that he's just ducking the press right now."

In the 1970 Vermont sex case, Harrington denied wrongdoing and agreed to a polygraph test. But the night before the test, police found his car abandoned on the edge of Lake Champlain, and his boat and waterlogged sweatshirt were found on a nearby island.

His parents never heard from him, but police became suspicious of the disappearance, Thornton said, when the manager of a beach club in Miami wrote to the Burlington High School principal, saying Harrington was seeking a job as a cabana attendant. The principal gave a copy of the letter to Burlington police.

In 1977, Ann Harrington wrote to Burlington police. "Our son has been missing for seven years now . . . . The insurance company would like to settle the claim and have requested a death certificate."

Burlington police refused the request in a letter to Ann Harrington: "The report by the investigators in charge at the time indicates that David B. Harrington was known to be in the Florida area subsequent to the missing person incident in this town. The case was closed as the authorities had sufficient belief that Mr. Harrington was safe."


By Charles W. Hall, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Washington Post, March 7, 1987

Three new child molesting charges were lodged yesterday against David B. Harrington, a Silver Spring private school principal, and Montgomery County police said they will begin a nationwide search because they believe that he has disappeared for the second time in 17 years.

Harrington, the county's 1985-86 Big Brother of the Year and high school principal at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington, has not been seen by authorities or his bail bondsman since his arrest last Saturday. According to a source involved in the search, Harrington on Monday drained a bank account containing $ 15,000 to $ 20,000.

Harrington, 43, also operated a youth travel agency from his Germantown town house and had possession of more than $ 10,000 paid to his Independent Schools Travel Association to organize a weekend ski trip for about 70 youngsters.

"We do not know where he is at this time," said Sgt. Kathi Rhodes, the head of the Montgomery police pedophile unit, after announcing the new charges at a news conference.

"We foresee more victims" being discovered, said Rhodes, adding that interviews with children could take "weeks, months, who knows how long?"

Harrington, who faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted, worked with hundreds of youngsters in recent years in a succession of school jobs, in his travel agency and in Big Brothers, a volunteer agency that matches fatherless boys with men willing to act as male role models.

Police searching Harrington's home last Saturday found hundreds of photographs of children, most apparently taken on group outings. Some photos showed children in suggestive poses, police said.

Neither the Big Brothers organization nor the Hebrew Academy, where Harrington worked since 1980, was aware that he had been convicted and sentenced to a 30-day jail term on a 1969 child abuse charge. Each organization said it checked his references but found no suggestion of wrongdoing.

Harrington disappeared in August 1970 by faking his drowning in Lake Champlain, just one day before he was to take a polygraph examination in a child molestation case in Vermont, where he taught high school mathematics, police said.

Harrington then obscured his identity by obtaining a new Social Security number, falsifying his date of birth and taking three different middle names, police said.

According to court papers outlining the new charges, Harrington was a Big Brother to one of the three minors involved. He is alleged to have sexually fondled the boy at his apartment in 1980 after giving him wine and showing him X-rated movies. The boy was 12 at the time.

The other two minors were molested between 1982 and 1983, police charged. The youths, who were 14 and 15 at the time, also were given wine and shown X-rated movies, the court papers said.

The initial charge against Harrington involved a 14-year-old who participated in Big Brothers and was allegedly sexually abused this year, according to police.

Harrington, whose last known contact was a phone call Monday to a friend, was free on $ 10,000 bond at the time of his current disappearance. His bail bondsman, Nick Pantazes of Rockville, said he had not talked to Harrington since Sunday and that he became worried when "I asked him to call me Monday and he never got back."

Rhodes complained yesterday that Harrington's bail had been set too low and said that if he is located her office would request that he be held without bond. "We would love to have higher bonds set in cases like this."

At the time bail was set, police did not know that Harrington had previously fled prosecution in a sex abuse case. Harrington surfaced in Florida before moving to Maryland in the early 1970s. He served as headmaster at the McLean School of Maryland in Potomac before joining Hebrew Academy.

Rabbi William Altshul, headmaster at Hebrew Academy, said his staff had checked references only at schools where Harrington had taught in Maryland and had not learned of his problems in Vermont.

Willis Johnson, a spokesman for Big Brothers, said his agency did not have access to national criminal records when Harrington was accepted as a volunteer in 1980. He said Big Brother candidates in Maryland must now submit fingerprints, and a new law allows the organization to request criminal records through the state police.

Harrington first came to the attention of Montgomery police in 1985 when he was sentenced to 18 months' probation for buying stolen computer equipment from youngsters. An officer searching Harrington's house became suspicious after seeing numerous photos of children, police said.

In recent months, after the formation of the county police's pedophile unit, police said they stepped up surveillance of Harrington. An investigation source said police covertly followed Harrington on a ski trip that he had organized shortly before his arrest. "We wanted to make sure he wasn't putting the kids at risk, and we didn't see any sign that he was doing so."

Parents at the Hebrew Academy, where Harrington supervised 70 high schoolstudents, expressed deepening shock as news accounts detailed Harrington's past. Although police have said there is no evidence that any of the high school students had been molested, Jason Rosenblatt, a parent, said, "We've all been abused. He has betrayed everyone's trust."


By Valca Valentine, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Washington Post, March 9, 1987

A van owned by David B. Harrington, a Silver Spring private school principal charged with molesting four children, was recovered and impounded yesterday by Montgomery County police from a Gaithersburg shopping mall parking lot, according to a police spokesman.

Police officials have begun a nationwide search for Harrington, a high school principal at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington and the county's 1985-86 Big Brother of the Year, who has not been seen by authorities or his bail bondsman since his arrest on Feb. 28.

Harrington, 43, who also operates a youth travel service from his house in Germantown, was charged Feb. 28 with sexually molesting a 14-year-old boy. On Friday, three new child molestation charges were placed against him. If convicted, he faces up to 60 years in prison.

After responding to a 6:45 a.m. call yesterday from the Lakeforest Shopping Mall security staff, Montgomery police conducted a registration check on the van and found that it is owned by Harrington, said police spokesman George Luddington.

The van, which shopping mall security staff members said had been parked in a commuter lot near the Sears department store for three to four days, was described as a two-toned brown and tan late-model vehicle with curtained windows. A ladder and a tan spare tire cover were positioned at the rear of the van, Luddington said. "We have no idea where he is, but we're following up on every lead we receive," he said. Luddington.


United Press International - March 10, 1987, Tuesday, AM cycle

The FBI joined the search Tuesday for David Harrington, a once-honored and respected private high school principal who is accused of molesting four teenage boys.

U.S. District Court Magistrate James Bailey issued a federal arrest warrant for Harrington, charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, said FBI special agent Andy Manning.

The warrant includes a recommendation that the suspect be held without bond when he is apprehended, he said.

Harrington, 43, is believed by police to be the same man who staged his own death 17 years ago in a Vermont boating accident after pleading guilty to a child sex abuse charge in Connecticut.

Harrington is thought to have then altered his name, social security number and birth date, and moved to Florida.

Harrington was charged in Montgomery County with sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy he befriended while a leader of the county Big Brothers, an organization that matches fatherless boys with men who act as role models.

County authorities last saw Harrington March 1, the day after he was released from their custody on $10,000 bond.

Investigators tried to arrest Harrington at his Germantown home Friday on charges of sexually abusing three other teenage boys, but could not find him.

Police say a manhunt has turned up only a van registered in Harrington's name abandoned in a county commuter parking lot.

Monday night, officials at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington fired Harrington from the principal's job he has held since 1980.

Rabbi William Altshul, headmaster of the 470-student school, said school leaders believe Harrington misrepresented his past on his employment application.

At the outset of the police investigation, school leaders and others who know Harrington said they were astonished by the charges and described him as an excellent teacher who was well respected.

Harrington was honored as Montgomery County's Big Brother of the Year for 1985-86.


United Press International March 11, 1987, Wednesday, PM cycle

DATELINE: ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Authorities are searching New York today as part of their nationwide manhunt for a suspected child molester who once eluded New England authorities by faking his death and taking on a new identity.

Montgomery County police spokesman Harry Geehreng said investigators received a tip from a passenger on a New York-bound flight who said he spotted a man matching the description of David Harrington, 43, a once-honored Big Brother and high school principal.
On Tuesday the FBI entered the intense search for Harrington, 43, of Germantown, Md. He is accused of abusing a 14-year-old boy who was his ''little brother'' in the Montgomery County Big Brothers program.

Harrington, who faces additional charges of molesting three other local teenage boys, has not been seen since his release from police custody March 1.

''To find him in New York City is like looking for a needle in a haystack,'' Geehreng said. ''It's just a lead and we're following up on every lead we get.''

An affidavit filed by the FBI showed that Harrington withdrew $10,000 from his business account at a Maryland bank on March 2.

Harrington operates a travel agency from his home for students at area private schools. School officials said students had paid him a little more than $10,000 to go on a Pennsylvania ski trip last weekend.

Authorities now fear he may have taken an elusive path similar to one he took 17 years ago when he apparently staged his own death in a supposed boating accident on Lake Champlain in Vermont.

Harrington had been scheduled to take a lie detector test the day after he disappeared in 1970. Authorities say he had been a suspect in a child sex abuse case in Vermont and less than a year earlier, he pleaded guilty and served a 30-day jail sentence on a child molestation charge in Connecticut.

Police say he altered his name and birthday, obtained a new Social Security card, and then moved to Florida before coming to Maryland.

Harrington was recently honored as the Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year and was fired Monday from his job as principal of the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington, a private high school in Silver Spring.


Fugitive in Molestation Case Possibly Boarded N.Y. Flight
By  Charles W. Hall, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Washington Post - March 11, 1987

A man tentatively identified as fugitive David B. Harrington boarded a New York-bound flight at Baltimore-Washington International Airport last week, and police said yesterday that they were focusing their search in the New York area for the suspect in the Maryland child molestation case.

A passenger using the name Kevin Harrington boarded a flight from BWI to LaGuardia International Airport on Wednesday, said Montgomery police Sgt. Scott Kessler.

A passenger called police after recognizing Harrington's picture from news reports, then identified Harrington's picture from a lineup of police photos. The lead is the most solid since Harrington, a 43-year-old high school principal at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington and a Montgomery County Big Brother of the year, disappeared last week after being charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old.

Yesterday, the FBI formally joined the search for Harrington when U.S. Magistrate James P. Bailey issued a felony warrant charging Harrington with interstate flight to avoid prosecution.

According to an FBI affidavit submitted to Bailey, Harrington called a friend on March 1 and said "he was in trouble and had to leave the area."  The affidavit also said that on March 2 he withdrew $ 10,000 in $ 100 bills from his business account at the Citizens Bank of Maryland.

Harrington, who ran a travel agency out of his Germantown town house, had at least $ 10,000 in deposits from weekend ski trips he was organizing for youths at the time of his arrest.

A source involved in the search for Harrington said Harrington drained a total of $ 16,000 from several accounts at the bank.

Harrington was released March 1 on $ 10,000 bond, a day after he was arrested at his house.

He immediately disappeared, and police have sought him since Friday, when three additional charges of child molestation were lodged against him.

It is the second time in 17 years that Harrington has vanished during an investigation of child molestation charges.

He faked his drowning to avoid a 1970 Vermont investigation, according to police, before coming to the Washington area as an educator in the early 1970s.

Kessler said Montgomery officers, who had contacted New York police, planned to go to New York today to question car rental companies and anyone who might have seen Harrington. "The information is good enough that it warrants our going up there," he said.

But Kessler expressed caution about Harrington's sighting at BWI, noting that police also had several reported sightings in other states.

Although the passenger "positively identified" Harrington from a photo lineup, Kessler said no airline or BWI employes recalled seeing him.

Harrington was carrying no baggage, according to the passenger's account, Kessler said. Police searched Harrington's house Friday, and found that none of his personal effects or luggage appeared to be missing, he added.

Bail bondsman Nick Pantazes, who posted the $ 10,000 bond after requiring a $ 1,000 payment from Harrington, said he had so few qualms about Harrington that he didn't require Harrington to sign over any property as collateral on the bond.

"You couldn't have found a better bond risk," Pantazes said. "He owned his own home, and had a well-placed job."

Pantazes said he has hired a private investigator to search for Harrington and has asked his lawyer to see whether he could place a lien on Harrington's house.

Harrington was officially fired Monday night from the job he had held since 1980, said Rabbi William Altshul, the academy's headmaster. "We'd like to draw the curtain on what has been a very sad chapter in our school's history," Altshul said.


Tracking the Child Molester
The Washington Post - March 11, 1987

THE STORY of David B. Harrington, the Silver Spring school principal who has been charged with sexually molesting four young boys, is instructive in a chilling way. It is also extremely discouraging for what it says about the ease with which persons not just charged, but actually convicted of such crimes, manage to fetch up in new jobs they shouldn't hold. You don't have to prejudge the charges against Mr. Harrington, who hasn't been seen since a court appearance on March 1, to believe this is so. That Mr. Harrington, who had been convicted of this crime in 1969, was able to find jobs thereafter in schools proves the point. Employers and authorities are still not nearly diligent enough in keeping the kinds of records that would prevent child molesters from claming more victims.

It is true that 10 states, including Maryland, now require fingerprint and criminal background checks for adults hired at schools and day-care centers, but that is not enough. They are needed in every state. Neither the District nor Virginia has such laws. In Mr. Harrington, we have the case of a man who went to unusual lengths to conceal his identity and his past. He also traveled extensively, finally landing in Silver Spring. It was a poor background check that allowed Mr. Harrington to land a teaching job in Vermont in 1970 while he was on probation from a 1969 child-abuse conviction as a teacher in Connecticut. One must also ask why the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington failed to learn that its principal -- the same Mr. Harrington -- had been sentenced to 18 months' probation for buying stolen computer equipment from youngsters in Montgomery County in 1985.

Another point that needs to be made is that criminal background checks might not be enough if a person alters his identity. The Big Brothers chapter of Montgomery County, which once designated Mr. Harrington as its Big Brother of the Year, did no fingerprint check on him. A new Maryland law gives organizations such as Big Brothers the right to ask for fingerprint checks. It should be used.

School systems and day-care centers must also be more diligent in keeping accurate personnel records that note past convictions of employees who may try to get teaching jobs in other jurisdictions. Court agreements, in which a convicted child molester's case is omitted from personnel files, are another culprit. This practice should be abandoned; it endangers other children, prospective new victims. None of these actions unduly menaces the civil liberties of those who are arrested and later acquitted; they could go a long way toward protecting the welfare of vulnerable children against one of the cruelest and most repulsive crimes. How many warnings, how many further examples of this casual approach to the records of those who have committed this crime do we need?


DATELINE: Warwick, R.I.
United Press International March 17, 1987, Tuesday, PM cycle

The mother of accused child molester David Harrington, stunned to learn he's alive, urged her son to surrender to authorities, saying he's ''not the David we knew.''

''We want to support him in any way we can to get help,'' Anne Harrington of Warwick said. ''He should contact us ... turn himself in.''

She said she was was shocked to learn Harrington, who apparently faked his death in 1970 to escape Vermont authorities, was alive and charged with child sexual abuse in Maryland.

''It was a tremendous shock -- to find out through the news media,'' said Paul Harrington, his brother, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

Harrington, 43, formerly of Warwick, is charged in Maryland with four counts of child sexual abuse. He has since fled and drained his $16,000 bank account, authorities said.

Harrington, most recently a high school principal in Silver Spring, Md., is a member of the Big Brothers association in Montgomery County, Md., and is accused of sexually abusing one of his ''little brothers'' and other youngsters.

''(He's) not the David we knew,'' Mrs. Harrington, 69, told the Providence Journal-Bulletin in today's editions. She said she and her husband, Robert Harrington Jr., 77, last saw their son in 1970.

Harrington, a 1965 graduate of the University of Rhode Island who his brother described as a ''very smart kid,'' was convicted in 1969 in Litchfield County, Conn., of one count of risk of injury to children. In 1970, Harrington was a teacher at a Burlington, Vt., private school when he came under investigation in Winooski, Vt., on allegations of child molestation.

He faked his own drowning in Lake Champlain a day before he was scheduled to take a lie detector test, police said.

''He's led two perfectly different lives -- one that he shows to people at work, the professional educator where he helps a lot of the masses,'' Paul Harrington said. ''The other side is his own little personal world where maybe he never grew up. And he's sick. And if he's sick, he should be treated.''


By  News Services and Staff Reports
The Washington Post, April 4, 1987

As expected, David B. Harrington, a former private school principal charged with molesting four children, failed to show up yesterday for a hearing in his case in Montgomery County District Court in Bethesda.

Harrington, 43, a former principal at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, vanished last month, shortly after he had been charged with molesting a child he had met through the Big Brothers program. He has been the focus of nationwide search by police and FBI.

It was learned after Harrington's release on $ 10,000 bond that he had disappeared once before, in 1970 while under investigation in a Vermont molestation case.

Harrington was formally indicted on one sex abuse charge Thursday. He has not been indicted on the molestation charges involving three other youngsters. Janice Stiers, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office, said a Circuit Court hearing had been scheduled May 1, at which time Harrington, who could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison, must appear or forfeit his bond. He was not required to be at yesterday's hearing, Stiers said.


By  Charles W. Hall
The Washington Post - April 9, 1987

Five weeks following his disappearance after being charged with sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy, David B. Harrington, former principal of a private school in Silver Spring, surrendered yesterday and told investigators he was broke and wanted to get help.

Harrington was arrested at 5:10 p.m. after stepping off a Metro train at the Silver Spring station following days of telephone negotiations with investigators from the Montgomery County Police Department's pedophile squad, police said.

In the last five weeks, police said, Harrington traveled to New York, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, and appeared to have spent virtually all of the $16,000 he had withdrawn from a bank account he had in Gaithersburg.

"He had nothing," said Sgt. Harry Geehreng, a Montgomery police spokesman. "He had money for the ticket back and that was it."

Harrington, 43, who was principal of the high school at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington and a former Montgomery County Big Brother of the year, was arrested Feb. 28 at his Gaithersburg home and accused of molesting a 14-year-old he had met through the Big Brothers program.

He was released the next day under $ 10,000 bond and dropped out of view. By the time he was charged March 6 with three additional counts of child sexual abuse, police were unable to find him.

Within days, police learned that Harrington had faked his own drowning in 1970 the day before he was to take a polygraph examination in connection with a child molestation case in Vermont.

According to Geehreng, Harrington told investigators that he left the area March 2, the day after he was released on bond. Geehreng said Harrington boarded an Amtrak train to New York, and saw the play "Cats" before going to Burlington, Vt., and Providence, R.I.

In Rhode Island, Geehreng said, Harrington got a copy of his college transcript from the University of Rhode Island and a copy of his birth certificate. "It's impossible to speculate on his reasons," Geehreng said. "It was all under his own name."

Harrington told investigators he went to the Bahamas and from there to Puerto Rico.

Geehreng declined to say when Harrington called police or how many times he talked with investigators, but a source close to the investigation said a man identifying himself as Harrington first called the police department Sunday, asking for Detective Rick Cage, a member of the pedophile unit.

Geehreng said Harrington and investigators talked by phone several times and that "his trust seemed to grow each time." Harrington "told us that he wanted to get some help," Geehreng said.

Police got their final call at 3 p.m. yesterday from Richmond, where Harrington boarded an Amtrak train that took him to Washington's Union Station. When he surrendered to police, he was bearded and wearing a Hawaiian shirt, Geehreng said. "He was very tan. He had definitely been in the tropics."

Police took Harrington to the Wheaton District station, where he agreed to be interviewed without a lawyer, Geehreng said. Harrington was being held at the County Detention Center last night under $ 3 million bond.

He could be sentenced to as much as 60 years in prison if convicted of all four charges of child sexual abuse. In addition, following his disappearance he was charged with interstate flight to avoid arrest. Geehreng said he did not know whether Harrington will be prosecuted on that charge.

In Warwick, R.I., Harrington's mother, Annie Harrington, 69, said she was delighted by the news of her son's surrender. She and her husband Robert, 78, had believed for 17 years that their son had died in the fake boating accident until learning of his arrest and disappearance a month ago.

"This is the best news we could have heard," she said. "It means that now he can be helped." She said she and her husband had not decided whether they would try to visit their son.

Harrington's brother Paul, who lives in Pacifica, Calif., said he was pleased by his brother's surrender. "For someone to change, they have to realize they have a problem. I didn't think he really realized that. I thought he would keep running."


United Press International April 9, 1987, Thursday, AM cycle

DATELINE: ROCKVILLE, Md.-- A judge Thursday doubled the jail bond of a former Hebrew school principal and ''Big Brother of the Year'' charged with sexually abusing four teenage boys and then skipping bail five weeks ago.

David Harrington, 43, surrendered to police Wednesday in a prearranged meeting at a subway station in suburban Washington after returning to the area on an Amtrak train from Richmond, Va., police Sgt. Harry Geehreng said.

Since skipping bond in late February, police said, Harrington had traveled to New York and to his hometown of Providence, R.I., then to Burlington, Vt., and from there to Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

The accused child molester, ''completely out of money,'' despondent and feeling ''he had no place to go,'' this week called the pedophile squad officers who originally arrested him, and after a series of telephone conversations agreed Wednesday to surrender, Geehreng said.

Geehreng said Harrington had ''built up a rapport'' with the detectives and felt he could confide in them.

He was jailed Wednesday night on $3 million bond. He appeared in Montgomery County District Court for a bond review hearing Thursday morning and Judge Jerry Hyatt doubled his bail to $6 million.

Harrington was arrested Feb. 28 on one count of sexually abusing a teenage boy and was released later that day on $10,000 bond. Police discovered he had fled the area after issuing a new warrant charging him with three additional counts of sexual child abuse.

At least one of the four counts involved a boy he worked with as a volunteer in the Big Brothers program that matches fatherless boys to older male role models, police said.

At the time of his arrest, Harrington was a high school principal at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, but was dismissed last month after the allegations surfaced.

Harrington had also been active in the local Big Brothers program and had been named Montgomery County's Big Brother of the Year for 1985-86.

Police said Harrington faked his own death 17 years ago in a staged boating accident in Vermont while under suspicion of sexually molesting a teenage boy.

He then allegedly altered his name and Social Security number, moved to Florida, and later moved to Maryland.


By Charles W. Hall, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Washington Post, April 10, 1987

David Harrington, whose five-week flight from sexual abuse charges baffled Montgomery County investigators, has told police that he squandered most of his $ 16,000 gambling in Puerto Rico, then sank into depression and considered killing himself before surrendering Wednesday night.

In a rambling tale that police have not yet verified, Harrington -- the former principal of the high school at Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington in Silver Spring and former Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year -- gave investigators a detailed accounting of his whereabouts after fleeing from the area March 2.

According to the account, Harrington, 43, who is charged with molesting four youngsters, briefly returned to a Vermont city where he once lived, holing up in a hotel there, and watching television news reports about his disappearance. He said he then came close to shooting himself in San Juan before an unidentified priest intervened, police said.

Harrington began telephoning police last weekend, telling them he was considering surrender and also suicide, police said. The fugitive ended his flight Wednesday afternoon, surrendering uneventfully at the Silver Spring Metro station.

Yesterday, Harrington's bail, which was set at $ 3 million after he surrendered, was raised to $ 7 million in two hearings. He had been free on $ 10,000 bond when he disappeared from the area after his arrest Feb. 28 at his Germantown home.

Montgomery police Sgt. Harry Geehreng said yesterday that major parts of Harrington's account, given to police in the hours after his arrest, remain unconfirmed. "We just don't know if it's true," Geehreng said, but he said Harrington's accounts of his movements have been corroborated by airplane and train tickets.

Harrington, dressed in an olive drab prison jump suit, remained silent at a bond review hearing in the Circuit Court. He was represented by the public defender's office, which said it would handle Harrington's case until it can determine whether he meets the office's financial eligibility guidelines.

Geehreng said Harrington agreed to talk to police without consulting a lawyer and was interviewed for several hours by investigators.

According to Geehreng, Harrington said that on the night of Feb. 28, after his arrest on a charge of fondling a 14-year-old he had met through the Big Brothers program, he spent the night at a Baltimore motel.

He returned briefly the next day to his town house at 12616 Red Pepper Ct. and saw that investigators had taken a telephone answering machine and hundreds of photographs he had taken of children during ski trips he organized.

"That's when it sank in and he decided to flee," said Geehreng. After withdrawing $ 16,000 in $ 100 bills from his bank in Gaithersburg, Harrington took an Amtrak train to New York.

Montgomery police said Harrington also faces theft charges for allegedly taking $ 10,000 from the high school ski trip funds. Fairfax City police said yesterday that they have filed a felony grand larceny warrant against Harrington, alleging that he had stolen $ 6,279 from 42 students and six adults at Paul VI High School in Fairfax, money that also was supposed to be used for ski trips.

In the weeks after Harrington's disappearance, police had speculated that he could use his money to remain in hiding for an indefinite time. Instead, Harrington apparently spent his money wildly, viewing his travels not as an escape but as "one final fling," Geehreng said.
After picking up copies of his birth certificate and college transcripts in Rhode Island -- his reasons for obtaining the records remain unclear -- Harrington returned on March 5 to Burlington, Vt., where he had been a high school math teacher in the late 1960s.

"He told us he just wanted to reminisce," Geehreng said, adding that Harrington roamed the streets and hired a cab to drive him by Burlington High School.

Ironically, while he was staying at the Holiday Inn in South Burlington, about a mile from where he once lived, his past caught up with him. Reports flooded the local television stations that Harrington had faked his own drowning in 1970 to escape a Vermont molestation investigation against him.

"He stayed in the motel and watched the accounts on TV," said Geehreng. According to Holiday Inn records, a guest registered March 5 as David B. Harrington and listed a Germantown address. Employes at the motel said they did not recall anything about Harrington.

After a night in Vermont, Harrington flew from Newark, N.J., to San Juan, staying nearly a week in three hotels. There, Geehreng said, Harrington told investigators that "he spent a lot of money gambling in the casinos, drank heavily and flashed hundred-dollar bills in the bars. He was literally throwing his money around."

By this time, Harrington told investigators Wednesday, he was sinking into despair, hoping that he would be robbed and killed after showing off his cash. After a week, Harrington told police, he flew to the Bahamas, staying in Freeport, before returning to San Juan.

In his second visit, Harrington told police, "he bought a Saturday night special and considered killing himself," according to Geehreng. At a key moment, according to the account, a priest met Harrington and persuaded him not to end his life. "Harrington seemed to consider it as kind of a divine intervention, the moment that turned it around," Geehreng said.

Police have not identified the priest, Geehreng said, nor found the gun he said he bought. He said police believe Harrington left the gun on the street in San Juan.


By Associated Press
The New York Times, April 12, 1987

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 10 -- The former principal of a private high school, who disappeared after being charged with child molestation, has been arrested and ordered held on $7 million bond.

David B. Harrington, 43 years old, who was dismissed March 9 as principal of the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington, turned himself in Wednesday in Silver Spring, apparently after running out of money, the police said. He had been missing since his arrest in February on a charge of molesting a 14-year-old boy in a Big Brothers program. Three other charges have now been added.

By Charles W. Hall
The Washington Post, April 18, 1987

To his neighbors in Germantown and his colleagues at the school where he was principal, the man seemed a model citizen.

But last year, Montgomery County police detectives began watching him anyway.

He had been arrested two years earlier on a theft charge, and a police report noted that he had an unusual number of photos of children at his home.

Prompted by the two-year-old report, police investigators covertly watched the youngsters who entered and left his home. During the coming weeks they even followed the man out of town on a weekend trip with a youth group.

They saw him do nothing illegal, but county investigators felt growing concern about the man's almost constant contact with youngsters. Eventually they interviewed a teen-ager who had been seen at the principal's home, and asked the question that had sustained the investigation for more than a month: Was private school principal David B. Harrington a child molester?

Harrington's arrest in February on four counts of child sexual abuse has provoked intense media attention, but the investigation that led to it is an example of a growing trend among police detectives that extends well beyond his case.

Increasingly, specialized units are switching from traditional police methods, in which investigators start with a crime that has occurred and try to learn who committed it. Now, using personal profiles and informants' tips, investigators often try to predict who is most likely to commit a crime, and then watch them secretly to see if they do so.

The technique can mean extended surveillance of citizens who aren't known to have broken the law. But civil libertarians say that it is a proper and important law enforcement tool, as long as police have a reasonable basis for launching the surveillance and are careful not to violate the privacy rights of those they are investigating. Within those important boundaries, "basically, it's good police work," said Arthur B. Spitzer, legal director of the National Capital Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Certainly, I think it would be wrong for them to be going up and down the street asking every neighbor about your personal life based on an anonymous telephone call," Spitzer said. "If all someone said is this guy has a lot of pictures of children at home, that's not much of a basis to institute a month-long surveillance."

Investigators and prosecutors say that it is enabling them to crack cases that traditionally have lingered unsolved and to concentrate on career offenders who cause disproportionate amounts of crime. "We're sort of doing the opposite of traditional police work," said Sgt. Scott Kessler, who heads Montgomery's repeat offenders unit. "We're starting with the bad guy and letting him lead us to the crime."

The District police department's repeat offender project, which was formed in 1982 and is considered a pioneer, also relies heavily on so-called "proactive" investigations, in which suspects are identified and followed before they are linked to a specific crime.

In the District, Inspector Edward Spurlock said his 63-member repeat offender unit has averaged 650 arrests a year, about a quarter through surveillance operations. According to Spurlock, none of the cases has been challenged in court on the grounds that the surveillance was illegal.

Montgomery's Kessler said that as tips are received through informants and other police units, his 10-member repeat offender unit checks the suspect's criminal background, and is most likely to set up surveillance on young career criminals, who typically have extensive juvenile records and no visible means of income.

Since the Montgomery unit's formation a year ago, 31 full-time surveillance operations have been conducted. Thirteen of the suspects who were covertly followed were arrested, usually for attempted burglaries or drug offenses.

Montgomery Detective Richard Cage, who helped conduct the Harrington investigation, said police have long been frustrated by cases that are suspicious but not actually criminal.

"You take someone who's at the neighborhood playground taking pictures of little girls coming down a slide," said Cage. "It's suspicious, but if someone calls us, historically we've said, 'There's nothing I can do, lady. He hasn't broken the law.' "

Since the pedophile unit was formed last August, police are going much further in their inquiries about adults identified in complaints to police.

Harrington's name first turned up as a possible sex offender in 1985, when he was arrested at his home and later convicted on charges of buying stolen computer equipment from teen-agers. The arresting officer saw hundreds of photos of children involved in normal activities, such as skiing or singing around a campfire. But the volume of pictures was troubling.

Because there was nothing criminal about the photos, the sex offense investigation lay dormant for more than a year -- one of hundreds of suspicious cases on file with Montgomery police, Cage said.

After the pedophile unit was formed, Cage said, investigators began asking, "Who are these individuals?" Police began sifting through the files to see if anyone named in them fit the profile of the typical pedophile, which often includes adults who are involved more in activities with youngsters than with their own peers.

After determining that Harrington had a 1969 conviction for a Connecticut sex offense, police began surveillance of his home at the end of December, unsure of what they would find. "Just because you've been a sex offender in the past doesn't mean you still are," Cage said. "Maybe he quit doing that."

As they followed Harrington, investigators, still unaware if any sex offenses were actually occurring, began asking questions that went to the core of his personal activities. "We wondered why does a 43-year-old adult spend all his time with children? Why doesn't he have any adult friends?" Cage said.

Harrington was arrested Feb. 28, after a 14-year-old told police that he had been fondled. The former principal of Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington in Silver Spring has been charged with three additional counts of child sexual abuse and is awaiting trial in August.

The case raises both the advantages and potential dangers of proactive surveillance. Without the surveillance, investigators say, the Harrington case was unlikely to have emerged from police files.

At the same time, Cage said, police face a particularly sensitive decision in choosing when to interview possible victims, openly confirming that a suspect is under investigation.

The unit has arrested five persons since its formation, Cage said. Other operations have been called off when it appeared the suspect did not match the pedophile profile.

Cage and repeat-offender investigators say suspects are not aware that they are being followed. According to Spitzer, of the ACLU, that is one of several key factors in making the surveillance operations legal.

Spitzer said that as long as the investigations are brief, not intrusive and are based on some reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, "we have no problem."

He said people have no inherent right to privacy when they are out in public. "If you are in a public street, you are open to be seen by police or anyone else," Spitzer said.

Montgomery's Kessler said his unit gives suspects who are under surveillance up to a week to break the law. In one case, an arrest came within six hours, when the suspect began snorting cocaine in a truck. Kessler said stolen property was found in the truck after the suspect's arrest.

"People are stealing to buy drugs," Kessler said. "With one arrest like this, I feel I can keep 20 or 30 homeowners from being victimized. It's something I feel very good about."


The Washington Post, May 1, 1987

A grand jury indicted David B. Harrington yesterday on five counts of child sexual abuse, raising the number of felony counts to six against the former private school principal and Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year.

Harrington, 43, was arrested Feb. 28 and accused of sexually fondling a 14-year-old he had met through the Big Brothers program. He fled before additional charges were filed, but surrendered to police April 8.

Harrington, who was principal of the high school of the Hebrew Academy of Washington in Silver Spring, is being held in the county jail under $ 7 million bond. If convicted of all charges, he could be sentenced to up to 90 years in prison.

Janice Stiers, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery state's attorney's office, said she could not give details about the alleged victims in yesterday's indictments, handed up in Montgomery County Circuit Court. According to records filed by police in March, three of the cases involved sexual fondling incidents with teen-agers between 1980 and 1983.


The New York Times, May 6, 1987

SILVER SPRING, Md., May 4 -- The arrest of a respected high school principal here on charges of molesting a 14-year-old boy has stirred a storm of second-guessing in Maryland and raised questions about law enforcement's responses to sexual abuse of children.

The principal, David Harrington, was known as a gentle man who had a rare way with children. A 43-year-old bachelor, he ran school ski trips, volunteered as a Big Brother to three fatherless boys and was the area's Big Brother of the Year for 1985-1986.

But the police say he was also a pedophile who was convicted on a child molesting charge in Connecticut in 1970.

Law-enforcement officials and advocates of children's rights say that Mr. Harrington's illustrates how someone with such a record can elude the law.

Some States Have Laws
There is no Federal law requiring background checks for people who work with children, although a move to enact one arose in the early 1980's, after disclosures of sexual abuse in child care centers. Various states passed laws then, but many experts say they did not adequately address the problem of tracking child molesters.

In particular, they say that most states do not have a workable mechanism to monitor molesters who move from one jurisdiction to another or obscure their identities.

Mr. Harrington is charged with four counts of child molestation, a felony. He is being held under $7 million bond and has not yet entered a plea. He has been in custody since he surrendered April 8, about five weeks after his arrest. The police said that before surrendering he fled to Rhode Island, New York, Vermont and finally to Puerto Rico.

The police say that as a young teacher in 1970, Mr. Harrington was convicted of child molestation in Connecticut and charged with it in Vermont. They say that the day before he was to take a polygraph, or lie-detector, test in connection with the second charge Mr. Harrington faked his own death in a boating accident and spent several years in Florida.

New Social Security Number
Then he moved moved to the Washington area, using a new middle initial and new Social Security number, the authorities say.

''A pedophile is generally a pleasant-looking person, a gentle person,'' said Rosemary Savino, a spokesman for the Department of Children and Youth Services in Connecticut.
There is no way to determine how many pedophiles there are in the United States; most are never caught, and fewer still are convicted of the crime. Mr. Harrington's colleagues at the Hebrew Academy, the small private school that hired him in 1980 after a state background check failed to turn up his record, marveled that he had managed to elude the legal system.

Some experts think there should have been a way to spot Mr. Harrington before he was hired. They say that everyone who applies for a job with children should be fingerprinted and checked through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's records.

If he had been fingerprinted when he applied to the Big Brothers or the Hebrew Academy - a law passed last year in Maryland now requires such fingerprinting - Mr. Harrington probably would never have been hired.

''We don't care what you call yourself - your fingerprints don't change,'' said Randy Goodwin, chief of the recording section of the F.B.I.'s identification division.

Some Bills Hastily Enacted
In 1984, responding to concern about molestation in day care centers, the Government pledged one-time financing for day care programs in states agreeing to require F.B.I. checks for child care workers. A result was a hodgepodge of hastily passed bills, said Amy Wilkins, the senior staff specialist of the child care division of the Children's Defense Fund, a national child advocacy group.

Most states opted to forgo the extra money and stick to statewide, rather than national, checks. About 40 states mandate some form of checks; in all but about a dozen states, potential employees are screened only through state conviction records. Some states require screening for all jobs and volunteer positions with children; others require it only for some jobs.

In New York, many state agencies working with children have the option of subjecting employees to statewide checks; rarely are F.B.I. checks done. In Connecticut, people employed by family day care centers are screened by the F.B.I. Other organizations, such as the Big Brothers and the Girl Scouts, have access to the F.B.I. screening, if they choose.
In New Jersey, all state-employed child-care workers and teachers are must undergo F.B.I. checks. No checks are done on day-care center employees.

State Screening Is Faulted
Many experts say that screening limited to the state level is inadequate because molesters will do anything to continue their behavior.

''Even those that have been caught and convicted are likely to repeat their acts,'' said Dr. Robert M. Grossart, chief psychiatrist of Connecticut's Department of Children and Youth Services.

''At least 85 percent of the people we arrest are repeaters. In many instances we don't know the amount of times they've committed crimes,'' said Detective Ellen King of the sex crimes unit of the New York Police Department.

Some argue that F.B.I. screening is not worth the expense and trouble. Each check costs about $14, usually charged to the job applicant, and takes several weeks.

'False Sense of Security'
Others say the checks fail to turn up many offenders. ''If we rely on criminal records screening, we're giving a false sense of security,'' said Howard A. Davidson, director of the National Legal Resource Center for Child Advocacy and Protection at the American Bar Association.

Nonetheless, many children's advocates and law-enforcement officials favor the checks. They cite a variety of jobs which require F.B.I. clearance. In New York, for instance, an F.B.I. check is required of night watchmen, private investigators, wrestlers and lottery salesman, among others. In California, physical therapists, shorthand reporters and cemetery operators are some of many who must undergo F.B.I. screening.

''It amazes people who work in child advocacy that the last group of people to whom we're giving attention is the people who are working with our kids,'' said Mr. Davidson.

''It seems that it's a small price to pay,'' siad Ms. Savino of the Connecticut agency. ''We believe children have the right to have the state protect them.''


Recent Area Cases Challenge Stereotype of Child Molester
By Charles W. Hall, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Washington Post, May 17, 1987

David MacDonald Rankin, a former Marine and Eagle Scout, won praise from his peers as a caring and dedicated Boy Scout leader. He lived quietly with his parents and devoted hours to youth activities.

To the parents of boys in Troop 740, his background hardly seemed ground for suspicion. But last week the 28-year-old Rankin was arrested for allegedly forcing five scouts to perform sexual acts in the basement of a Prince George's County church.

The Rankin case, along with other alleged incidents of sex abuse that have surfaced recently in the Washington area, have prompted new questions about the warning signs that parents and youth organizations should recognize to protect children from abuse by adults who supervise them.

With a 17-fold increase in child sexual abuse cases in the past decade, police now no longer focus solely on the leering, trench coat-wrapped stranger offering candy to children as the prime target in child molestation cases.

More police look for the person often thought least likely to commit such crimes: the home-loving, family man who can devote his life to public service and in a Jekyll-Hyde twist gain the trust of children and take advantage of them.

"It's incredible how strong that stereotype is" of the trench-coated stranger, said Tim Smith, whose Seattle organization, Northwest Treatment Associates, specializes in the treatment of sex offenders. "We're dealing with every-person-U.S.A. This is very much the person next door.

"If I had to put my child in a day care center, I'd be paralyzed knowing what I know now," Smith said. "Nobody wants to say every coach, teacher or day care worker is a molester, but the fear is there, and that's a problem."

On Friday, in two separate D.C. Superior Court rooms, a former public schoolteacher and the director of a church choir were convicted of sexually assaulting children in incidents related to their employment. "Unfortunately," said D.C. Superior Court Judge Reggie B. Walton, "we are seeing too much of this kind of conduct occurring . . . with individuals in positions of trust."

In one of the most celebrated cases in the area, David B. Harrington, a former Silver Spring private high school principal, surrendered to authorities last month after being charged in February with molesting six youngsters, two of whom he met through the Big Brothers program. Harrington, who disappeared for five weeks after being charged, had been named Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year in 1986 and was honored by President Reagan in December at a White House reception.

Experts say the rash of molestation cases is no fluke. Rather, it reflects a stunning increase in nationwide reports of confirmed sexual abuse that has occurred since the mid-1970s.

In 1976, when national statistics were first compiled by the American Association for Protecting Children, only 6,000 sexual molestation cases were confirmed by state social welfare investigators. By 1985, investigators confirmed 113,000 new cases among about 250,000 complaints received by state child protection agencies, the association said.

Federal officials maintain no separate nationwide statistics on child sexual abuse. But the state agency reports almost certainly understate the real numbers, according to law enforcement and professional child abuse experts.

The increase in cases is widely attributed to heightened public awareness, rather than a significant rise in actual molestations.

But the sheer scope of the problem is forcing parents, many of whom spend long hours in the work place away from their children, to raise their youngsters in an increasing state of fear. The problem is particularly insidious, child abuse authorities say, because the perpetrator is likely to be a family member or trusted friend.

Molestation suspects frequently bear little resemblance to stereotypes. Many arrested for sexual molestation are married, are able to maintain adult sexual relationships, and are facile in their social and professional dealings.

Often, experts say, their outward personalities hide despair and self-loathing. Frequently, they have been victims of molestation.

Many molesters, Smith said, know that their sexual fantasies about children are wrong but are powerless to resist them as they grow in vigor.

He says molestation is best understood as an addiction, similar to dependence on drugs or alcohol, and that many sexual abusers are in the throes of self-hatred by the time they are caught. "It's what they've feared, someone calling them a dirty child molester, and they've known it all along."
A majority of molesters have no previous felonies, but the screening of job applicants for convictions is spreading.
In Maryland, potential employes in the schools and in a wide range of child-related activities must be fingerprinted and have their criminal records checked. Similar legislation is before the D.C. Council and school board. Virginia does not require criminal background checks but makes it a misdemeanor for school employes to lie about convictions on job applications.
In recent cases, such screening would have had mixed results. Harrington successfully concealed a 1969 child abuse conviction when he joined the Big Brothers, and James B. Crawford, a former District schoolteacher convicted Friday of having sex with a 12-year-old, had been convicted in 1969 of a similar crime in Michigan.

But other recent molesting suspects -- Boy Scout leader Rankin, Tyrone W. Johnson, director of a church choir in Southwest who was convicted in the District on Friday of sexually assaulting two 13-year-old singers, and Philip Stromowski, the principal of a Montgomery County special education center who was charged in April with molesting a teen-ager he met through his church -- have no known previous criminal records.

Screenings of conviction records are only a limited solution. The best protections, authorities say, are educating children to recognize and protect themselves from sexual advances and encouraging them to speak out immediately if they are accosted.

Police and other authorities say the process of speaking out has increased dramatically as public awareness of child molestation has grown through extensive publicity and education campaigns in the school.

"Sex has come into our living room by way of television, and people are just more likely to talk about it now," said Katie Bond, a spokeswoman for the American Association for Protection of Children, a Denver-based subsidiary of the American Humane Association.

Locally, reports to police agencies have mushroomed, says Montgomery Police Sgt. Kathi Rhodes, whose pedophile unit gained prominence in February with Harrington's arrest.

She says there is a far greater public awareness that child abuse occurs, and that it should not be cloaked in silence.

"It used to be you might go to a neighborhood with a report of a child beating, and no one heard anything," Rhodes said. "Now we're getting calls. They may not give us their name, but they're giving us the information. It's the same with the sexual abuse."

Rhodes and other Montgomery officers regularly visit classrooms, tailoring their message to the varying ages of the children.

"We tell them they have private parts that are special and belong only to them. I use the analogy of wherever your bathing suit covers," Rhodes said.

The advice underscores the sensitivity of educating efforts, possibly making children fearful of normal parental help with bathroom hygiene, and creating, in the view of some defense lawyers and the parents group Victims of Child Abuse Laws, a hysteria in which children become fearful of phantom threats.

Daniel Sexton of the Los Angeles-based National Child Abuse Hot Line says it is essential to be informative without being hysterical. "When we talk to young kids, we talk to them about sexual abuse the same way we talk about other rules. You don't take candy, you don't run across the street, you don't let people touch you."

The best protections, experts say, are a parent's vigilance and willingness to listen carefully to their children for warning signs, such as sudden depression or mood swings, shyness or fear that is often directed toward a specific individual, violent acting out, and occasionally frank pleas for help.

"The first thing you should do is believe the child," said Rhodes. "Stay calm and reassure them, tell them you're glad they came to you. Then seek help."


Accused Molester Charged With Theft
The Washington Post, June 13, 1987

David Harrington, a former Silver Spring private school principal who is accused of molesting six boys, has been charged with three counts of felony theft in the disappearance of more than $ 6,000 in ski trip money, Montgomery County police said yesterday.

Harrington, who disappeared two days after he was arrested Feb. 28 on a charge of child sexual abuse allegedly involving a youngster he had met through the Big Brothers program, also ran a private travel agency in which he organized skiing and other trips for youngsters.
Harrington later was charged with five other molestation counts in alleged incidents involving youths.

Police said that before he disappeared, Harrington withdrew at least $10,000 from his Germantown bank account. A short time later, police received complaints from high school students alleging that Harrington had taken deposits they had placed on ski trips.

Montgomery Detective Gary Costello said the three theft counts involved 31 student victims. He said bail on the theft charges was set at $ 3,000.

Harrington surrendered to police in April after a trip that took him to Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. He has been held at the County Detention Center on $ 7 million bond.


Ex-Principal Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse
By Paul Duggan, Beth Kaiman, Washington Post Staff Writers
The Washington Post, August 6, 1987

David B. Harrington, the former Silver Spring private school principal and a Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Circuit Court yesterday to six counts of child abuse and one count of felony theft.

In exchange for his pleas, the state's attorney's office agreed not to prosecute Harrington for several other alleged sex crimes and recommended that Judge James S. McAuliffe Jr. sentence him to no more than 25 years in prison for the theft and six child abuse offenses to which he pleaded guilty, according to Janice Stiers, spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office.

The felony theft charge stemmed from the disappearance of more than $ 6,000 in ski trip money entrusted by youngsters to a travel agency that Harrington operated.

Each of the seven crimes carries a maximum 15-year prison term. Harrington would have faced a possible 105-year sentence if tried and convicted.

Judge McAuliffe consented to the plea bargain yesterday and scheduled a sentencing hearing for Nov. 12, Stiers said.

Harrington's lawyer, Robert Morin, stressed in an interview that McAuliffe agreed to a maximum sentence of 25 years, but could impose a lesser sentence after the Nov. 12 hearing.

On April 2 and April 30 this year, Stiers said, a county grand jury issued six indictments against Harrington, each charging him with one count of child abuse and some charging him with additional sex offenses. As part of the plea bargain, Harrington pleaded guilty to the child abuse charge in each indictment and the state agreed to dismiss the additional, lesser charges at the time of his sentencing.

Stiers said the sex offenses involved boys whom Harrington met through the Big Brothers program or friends of the boys. She said none of the crimes involved students at the high school of the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, where Harrington was principal from 1980 until March 9.

Harrington was honored by President Reagan at a White House reception in December after being named Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year for 1986.

He was being held without bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center last night, awaiting sentencing.

Harrington, 43, was arrested Feb. 28 at his Germantown home and accused of molesting a 14-year-old boy whom he allegedly met through the Big Brothers program. Harrington disappeared two days later after being released on $ 10,000 bond. By March 6, he had been charged with three additional counts of child sexual abuse, and police were still unable to find him.

For five weeks Harrington eluded authorities, fleeing to New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, the Bahamas and finally to Puerto Rico where, he later told police, he had squandered $ 16,000 in gambling.

Before he fled this area, he had emptied his bank account, police said.

On April 8, Harrington, after telephoning police about surrendering, stepped off a Metro train at the Silver Spring station and into police custody.

At the time of his surrender, Harrington told police that he was broke and wanted to get help.

During his disappearance, police learned that in 1970 Harrington had faked his own drowning in Vermont the day before he was scheduled to take a polygraph test in connection with a child molestation case there. For 17 years, even his parents believed that he had died in the fake boating accident. Not until they learned of his March arrest in Germantown, and his subsequent disappearance, did they know their son was alive.


Ex-Principal Guilty of Molesting 6 Teen-Age Boys
By The Associated Press
The New York Times, August 8, 1987

ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 7 -- The former principal of a private high school in Montgomery County, Md., who faked his own death while under investigation 17 years ago and fled the country under child abuse charges earlier this year, has pleaded guilty to molesting six teen-age boys he met through the Big Brother program.

The former principal, David B. Harrington, pleaded guilty Wednesday to six counts of child abuse that were said to have occurred from 1979 to this year. He is to be sentenced by Judge James McAuliffe of the Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Mr. Harrington, a former principal of the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington and who was a Montgomery County ''Big Brother of the Year,'' was arrested Feb. 28 and charged with sexually molesting a 14-year-old boy who was his ward under the Big Brother program. The program unites fatherless boys with men willing to serve as male role models.

The defendant apparently fled the Washington area after being released on bond and later flew to the Bahamas when the authorities began filing new abuse charges against him as their investigation broadened.


A Special Case of Discrimination
By William Raspberry
The Washington Post, October 14, 1987
The Record (Bergen ) - October 22, 1987

Sometimes I wish the American Civil Liberties Union would adopt a rule to the effect that it will not undertake a case unless it is convinced that doing so would accomplish more good than harm. That wouldn't save the venerable organization from controversy; it doesn't want to be saved from controversy. But it would save it from at least some of its folly.

I have (naturally) a modest example. The ACLU of Southern California is suing on behalf of a bisexual car salesman whose sexual orientation led to his rejection as a Big Brother.

The Big Brothers organization is in the business of matching fatherless boys with men who can function as role models. Not very surprisingly, it has insisted on accepting only "straight" men.

You might call it common sense. The car salesman calls it discrimination, and the ACLU agrees with him.

"We have in California a law called the Unruh Act which prohibits arbitrary discrimination on any basis by any business establishment whatsoever," Paul Hoffman, legal director of the Southern California ACLU, explains. "Organizations like Big Brothers have been found to be business establishments in the meaning of the statute, and we contend that it is arbitrary as a blanket policy to exclude gay men in all situations."

The case has stretched on for some time now, in part because the original ACLU lawyer died of AIDS. According to Hoffman, he has been succeeded by a two-lawyer team that includes Hoffman and a lesbian who was in Washington this week to participate in the gay rights demonstration.

Hoffman, who is not gay, says he nonetheless feels "very strongly" about the case. "One of the key problems has been that people adopt blanket ideas about what gay and lesbian people are like, that they would destroy an organization that let them in."

Well, they could very well destroy an organization like Big Brothers, already reeling from the conviction on charges of child molestation of David Harrington, a former Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year. Since 1982, five Los Angeles area Big Brothers have been convicted of sex offenses involving boys they were assigned to, and a sixth case is pending. Nationally, there have been 22 such convictions.

Irrelevant, says Hoffman, whose organization also has gone to bat on behalf of an acknowledged homosexual who wants to be a Boy Scout leader. "A part of what we are attacking is the stereotype that a gay man would be likely to engage in this sort of thing. The vast majority of adults -- including homosexual adults -- would not engage in sexual conduct with children," he says.

I appreciate the distinction. Homosexuality and pederasty are two different aberrations (though in the case of adult males who abuse young boys, they happen to reside in the same individuals). Still, given the special nature of Big Brothers, wouldn't Hoffman agree that the acceptance of gay men would tend to shake the confidence of mothers looking for role models for their sons?

He would not. "We don't think organizations ought to be making exclusions of whole categories of people. I think society would be surprised at the numbers of gays and lesbians who hold highly respected positions. Most of us have probably encountered many gay people we think highly of. Why shouldn't they serve as role models?"

Hoffman does offer this concession: "We would not object to disclosing to a mother that an applicant is gay if that's something she cares about." And suppose she neglects to ask -- should she be told anyway? "We haven't gotten to that level," Hoffman says.

I happen to find "gay-bashing" highly offensive. Arbitrary discrimination against homosexuals -- in employment, in housing, in the broad range of civil rights -- is repugnant.
But it does not seem reasonable not to draw any lines at all. I would draw the line at accepting gay couples as foster or adoptive parents and in positions in which the function of role model is primary. Even conceding that homosexuals are no more likely than heterosexuals to be child abusers, the Big Brothers' rule against accepting gay men strikes me as reasonable.

Is it discriminatory? Yes. But it is a special case of discrimination whose cure would do more harm than good. Can the ACLU really believe otherwise?


Md. Child Molester Gets 25 - Year Term; - Ex-Big Brother Sexually Abused 6 Boys
By Paul Duggan
The Washington Post, December 1, 1987

The strange criminal odyssey of David B. Harrington ended in Montgomery County Circuit Court yesterday as the former Silver Spring private school principal was sentenced to 25 years in prison for molesting six boys he met through the Big Brothers program and for stealing about $ 7,000 in student ski trip money.

Harrington, 44, became a respected educator and principal at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington after faking his own death in Vermont in 1970 to avoid questioning in another child molestation case. He was arrested here last Feb. 28, but disappeared and fled to Puerto Rico before surrendering five weeks later.

"I'm ashamed for what I've done, and I'm ashamed for not having the strength to stop it," Harrington, his voice breaking, said in a brief statement to Judge James S. McAuliffe. "But I think there is good inside me, and I hope someday I can show that to you and to my family."

He also submitted a long letter to McAuliffe, which the judge declined to make public. Harrington showed no reaction when McAuliffe imposed the sentence after the three-hour hearing.

"It's been said here that you are a classic fixated pedophile," McAuliffe told Harrington, who was himself a victim of child sexual abuse, according to the testimony of two psychiatrists yesterday.

The 25-year prison term was the maximum Harrington could have received under a plea bargain with the state's attorney's office. The judge also ordered Harrington never to have contact with a child 16 years or younger without another adult present.

His lawyer, Robert Morin, said he plans to appeal the severity of the sentence.

Harrington, Montgomery County's 1986 Big Brother of the Year who was honored by President Reagan at a White House reception last year, was arrested on charges of molesting six children assigned to him by the Big Brothers program, which seeks to match fatherless boys with volunteer men who can serve as adult role models. He was fired by the Hebrew Academy, where he had been high school principal since 1980.

While free on bond, Harrington attracted wide publicity by fleeing from Maryland with an estimated $ 16,000 -- about $ 7,000 of which youngsters had entrusted to a student travel agency that Harrington operated as a sideline.

He surrendered after five weeks as a fugitive, saying he had squandered the money gambling in Puerto Rico and had contemplated suicide.

County police detectives, piecing together his background while he was on the run, learned of the 1970 Vermont episode in which he faked his drowning on the day before he was scheduled to take a polygraph examination. They also discovered that several months before the Vermont disappearance, Harrington had been sentenced to 30 days in a Connecticut jail after pleading guilty to violating a child-abuse statute.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Toolan recommended yesterday "a substantial period of incarceration" in state prison, telling Judge McAuliffe: "Mr. Harrington is an adult. Mr. Harrington knew right from wrong. Mr. Harrington knew what he was doing was wrong."

Morin asked the judge not to impose a fixed sentence until Harrington had been evaluated psychologically at the Maryland Reception Diagnostic Classification Center in Baltimore, where new inmates undergo testing before being assigned to prisons.

He said his client, as an admitted child molester awaiting sentencing, has been subjected to daily harassment by prisoners at the Montgomery County Detention Center and could expect even worse treatment from other inmates if sentenced to a state prison.

The psychiatrists who testified yesterday described Harrington as a pedophile who had been molested once at age 13 by a neighbor. They said the incident -- and his upbringing by alcoholic parents -- may have contributed to his disorder.

In imposing the 25-year sentence, McAuliffe said he would recommend that Harrington remain at the classification center until space becomes available at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, a maximum-security prison specializing in the treatment of emotionally unbalanced inmates.

Harrington pleaded guilty to molesting six boys, ages 10 to 17, between 1982 and this year. According to court documents, he plied them with beer and wine and allowed them to watch adult movies in his Germantown home.

Toolan, the prosecutor, told McAuliffe yesterday that Harrington videotaped some sex acts with the boys.

In exchange for his guilty pleas to six counts of child abuse, the state's attorney's office agreed not to prosecute him for several lesser crimes related to the molestation of the boys. He also was guaranteed that he would not serve more than 25 years in prison.

By the time Harrington agreed to the plea bargain in August, the darker side of his past had come to public light.

On Aug. 18, 1970, Harrington, then a 26-year-old high school mathematics teacher in Vermont, disappeared the day before he was to take a polygraph test in a molestation case in the town of Shelburne. Police found his car abandoned by the edge of Lake Champlain, and his boat and water-soaked shirt were discovered on a nearby island. He was presumed to have drowned.

Only after his arrest in Montgomery this year did Harrington's parents and Vermont authorities learn that he was alive.


Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
January 23, 2004
David Harrington is currently listed on the Maryland Sex Offender registry.


Address: 438 N SUMMIT #101 AV GAITHERSBURG, MD 20877


Category: Child Sexual Offenders

Information Contact: MONT CO


Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services 
October 10, 2013


Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia 
December 28, 2013



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