May 19, 2024

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From God To Gangsta: The Unraveling Of A Man

Rev. Shaun Harrison

From God To Gangsta: The Unraveling Of A Man

By: Jamarhl Crawford

Since the Rev. Shaun Harrison shot a teenage boy “execution style” in what is being reported as a dispute over a drug ring he controlled, many in the city have been left in shock.  The questions are coming from every corner of the city, “What would make a man do such a thing?”, “How could a Reverend betray God and his fellow clergy?”.

As with life, there is usually more beneath the surface and things are not always what they appear to be.

How could a Reverend betray God and his fellow clergy? Easy, they did it to him first.  It is my belief that Shaun Harrison was driven over the edge by a series of unfortunate events.  It is interesting that in conversations about violence, trauma is almost always a factor.  Years before he landed at English High School as Dean of Academics, Rev. Harrison experienced a deep trauma compounded only by betrayal and ostracization.

In 2007, The Boston Herald reported a tragic story with the headline: “Teen reveals shocking tale of minister’s sex abuse: Church allegedly knew of charges for two years”.  I know what you’re thinking, but no it was not Rev. Harrison who was the accused molester, he in fact was a victim, or more accurately his son was.  Let’s back it up.  Rev. Shaun Harrison’s son was molested by a fellow clergy, Rev. Larry Brown.  The molestation took place between 2004-2005. Notice I’m not saying allegedly because Rev. Larry Brown actually confessed and admitted his crimes to church hierarchy at both Mount Calvary Baptist Church and Emmanuel Gospel Center.

The abuse began when P. Edward Harrsion was 14. His name is only revealed here because it was widely reported and when the story broke the victim testified himself at age 18, which currently would make him 25 or 26.

From the Boston Herald 5/15/2007

“Harrison, the son of the Rev. Shaun Harrison, was 14 and a member of Mount Calvary Baptist, where Brown continues to work as a minister, when he said the abuse began.

“He would rub my back by giving me a massage and touch my private places. He would put his hands down my shorts. . . He had me sleep in the same bed when everyone was asleep (on a camping trip in New Hampshire) and started touching (me),” Harrison, now 18, said in a series of interviews”

Subsequently, as happens in many cases, the buck was passed, an angry father was told to keep quiet, and the trauma began to rip apart Rev. Harrison’s family, and I would argue, his mind.  This incident resulted in the break up of his 27 year marriage, because his wife also wanted to keep it quiet. As fate would have it, the Rev. Larry Brown was also her cousin.  The tragedy doesn’t stop there. The son ended up admitted to a hospital for severe depression and became suicidal due to the molestation.  This tragedy alone had a far reaching and devastating effect on not only the Harrison Family, but the clergy and community at-large.

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In another tragic incident, in January 2013, Rev. Harrison’s older son, Jeremy Harrison, then 28, was arrested on gun charges. Jeremy was a “Street Worker” with the city’s anti-violence program.  These charges stemmed from an incident after Jeremy “accidentally” shot his girlfriend in the head, while allegedly “cleaning” his gun in the apartment where they lived together.  The gun was later found to be an illegally owned, high caliber weapon with serial numbers obliterated. This is just the type of weapon that many in our community are organizing against in our efforts to stop the violence.

From The Boston Herald 1/21/2013

One of the city’s anti-crime street workers — son of a prominent Dorchester youth minister — is facing firearms charges and an ongoing police investigation after a woman was shot in the head and critically wounded in the apartment they share yesterday morning, according to police and his 

These two incidents are part of what I believe is the unraveling of a man.  When your fellow clergy and even your wife want you to remain silent on the molestation of your son to maintain the appearance of righteousness for the sake of the church, it can cause you to question your faith.  Where was God in all of this? What happened to my brothers in Christ? Come on even my wife is in on the big fix? Who cares about my son? It would seem to me that he wasn’t a “shooter” then, because after all, the molestation of your son would be one of the few understandable reasons to shoot someone.

After a horrific betrayal with one of his sons being victimized, Rev. Harrison is once again thrust into the spotlight with yet another incident involving another son.  My guess is this is most likely a man who kept up appearances but lost faith.  When he lost his faith and his way, ultimately he did what many of us do, he turned back into his old self.  He fell back into what was familiar and comfortable.  Usually, the reason one becomes a so-called “street preacher” is most likely because they came from the streets and want to minister to those who they see themselves in. “There but for the grace of God, go I”.  The trouble is it is very difficult to exorcise one’s own demons and often the dysfunctions creep back in, particularly when dealing with sexual predators, domestic abuse, and drug addiction.

There are many lessons to learn here and as the trial begins I am sure more will be revealed. We should all be very careful with the titles and labels that are assigned to many. Terms like “clergy” and “leader” do not exempt people from being broken and in need of serious help.  As many wonder how Harrison could “turn his back on God” understand the deep betrayal felt if you feel that God has turned his back on you.  The church is often judgmental. The streets are very forgiving.



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  1. jerry hurley

    I am a graduate of English High grew up in Dorchester – well, it is sad to hear these stories for me it was a great school! I received a wonderful education-now how do they get away with calling him a Dean of EHS?
    I do think the Headmaster-by the way she is doing a great job- is sort of responsible for allowing an uncertified person have his own office ,wow…let the good teachers and staff keep on doing their fine work and EHS will get some good press soon-one of the oldest (the oldest public high school) actually will survive all this and continue on…Jerry Hurley

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