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Former Big Brother Who Once Faked Death Is Sentenced In Sex Case

December 1, 1987

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) _ A former high school principal who authorities said once faked his own death to avoid questioning in a molestation case was given a 25-year sentence Monday for sexual child abuse and theft.

″I don’t find it particularly heartwarming to know that the people victimized by you had already been victimized by society in one way or another,″ Montgomery County Circuit Judge James McAuliffe said at the sentencing for David B. Harrington, 43.

Harrington, who once was honored for his work in the Big Brother program, pleaded guilty in August to six counts of child sexual abuse that occurred between 1979 and this year. The cases involved boys aged 11 to 14.

Harrington had been arrested on one count of child abuse last February, but was released the next day after posting bond.

Prosecutors said Harrington fled the country in March after taking $6,000 from a bank account in which high school students had deposited money for a school ski trip. The theft charge stemmed from that embezzlement, and the additional abuse charges were filed after the investigation broadened.

Harrington turned himself in after running out of money.

Harrington is a former principal of the private Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington and a one-time Montgomery County Big Brother of the Year.

The Big Brother program unites fatherless boys with men willing to serve as adult helpmates.

Before he was sentenced, Harrington said he was ashamed for what he had done and ashamed that he didn’t have the ″strength to stop.″

Assistant state’s attorney Kathleen Toolan acknowledged the defense portrait of Harrington as ″a guilt-ridden, remorseful, sympathetic person.″

But she said, ″There are six separate victims, victims who are not from stable families.″

She said Harrington opened his home to the boys, gave them beer and wine, allowed them to watch X-rated films and videotaped his own activities with them.

During the investigation, authorities determined that Harrington was the same man who had apparently feigned death and was presumed drowned in Vermont’s Lake Champlain in 1970, a day before he was to take a polygraph test in a child molestation case there.

Harrington apparently started a new life in 1971 by changing his middle name, birthdate and one digit in his Social Security number, authorities said.

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