Local News

Web cam catches college worker in sexual act

Posted December 8, 2008 7:35 p.m. EST
Updated December 9, 2008 7:22 a.m. EST

— Smithfield police and the Johnston County District Attorney's Office are investigating a Johnston Community College worker's complaint about a former employee who allegedly performed sexual and lewd acts in her office.

Paula Parrish, director of online classes at the college, said she set up a Web cam in her office last December after she noticed the door to her office ajar one morning.

The camera, she said, captured Harold Jones, a maintenance employee, masturbating in her office and afterward, touching various items on her desk.

"When I saw it, I couldn't believe it. I think I was in shock," Parrish said. "I found Mr. Jones exposing himself in my office, and he was placing candy on my desk, and he was touching himself with a piece of gum. He wrapped it and placed it back on my desk."

Jones, Parrish said, started making her uncomfortable with romantic advances, such as gifts and notes, in 2005 and would often leave her gum and candy on her desk – items she said she would often share with coworkers and her husband.

Upon making the Web cam discovery, Parrish reported the incident to her supervisors. Jones, a 16-year employee of the college, was allowed to retire. There was no criminal investigation.

Parrish said she believes the college mishandled the complaint, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled the school handled the situation appropriately.

"As soon as the college found out about it, we took immediate action," said Gordon Woodruff, an attorney who represents Johnston Community College. "I think the college did what it was required and needed to do and acted within its policies and within the law."

Because the college is a government facility, it cannot prohibit anyone, including Jones, from being on the campus.

That's why, Parrish said, she felt like she needed to go to law enforcement. She has been working for the past year to get them to look at her case.

"I was extremely scared. I immediately wanted to get out of my office because I was in fear that he was going to come to my office," she said. "We wanted him arrested and some criminal charges brought against him."

Jones, 68,  said Parrish reminded him of his late wife and that he does not know why he did what he did. But he said he does not think it is a crime.

"I'm truly sorry," he said. "It's an embarrassing situation for the school, for her, for me."

To Parrish, it's very personal. She says the ordeal has had a dramatic effect on her life, and she hopes the criminal justice system will give her some closure.

"This whole thing has destroyed me and my husband's life," she said.