Harbrook Hearing

Michael Harbrook, a former teacher charged with possession of child pornography, stands during his arraignment Tuesday in Belknap Superior Court. Standing next to him is public defender Caroline Smith. At left is Assistant Carroll County Attorney Kimberly Tessari, one of two attorneys prosecuting the case. (Michael Mortensen/Laconia Daily Sun)

LACONIA — A former high school teacher accused of possession child pornography is free on bail and has been granted a court-appointed lawyer following his arraignment Tuesday in Belknap Superior Court.

Michael Harbrook, 48, appeared before Judge James D. O’Neill III for the five-minute hearing. Harbrook is charged with four counts of possession of child sex abuse images, two counts of witness tampering and one count of falsifying evidence.

O’Neill set Harbrook’s bail at $1,500 cash or surety. The standard conditions for bail were also imposed on Harbrook, including that he have no contact with the victim, possess no firearms and refrain from drug or alcohol use.

Harbrook was an English teacher at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro until February 2017, when he resigned and surrendered his teaching credentials amid an investigation into alleged inappropriate contact with a student.

Assistant Carroll County Attorney Kimberly Tessari, who is helping to prosecute the case, said after the hearing that Wolfeboro police began investigating Harbrook at about the time he left Kingswood. She said that State Police took over the investigation in May 2017 and became the lead investigating agency. Catherine Shackford, of the State Police office that deals with cases in rural parts of the state, was the lead investigator, Tessari said.

Tessari said she could neither confirm or deny that the alleged victim was one of Harbrook’s students.

The indictments for the child pornography charges allege the female victim was 17 years old when the photographs were taken.

Harbrook spoke only to tell the judge that he has not lived at his residence on Sanborn Road in Tilton, for 16 months, and that he and his wife are in the process of divorcing. While Harbrook listed the Tilton residence as worth $150,000, O’Neill said the dwelling was described as the defendant’s wife’s family home, and that, further, the house cannot be counted as an asset at this time because it is tied up in the divorce.

The possession of child pornography charges are Class A felonies, punishable by a potential 7½- to 15-year prison sentence. The other charges are Class B felonies which carry a potential sentence of 3½ to seven years. Tessari also noted that should Harbrook be convicted on any of the child pornography charges, he would be required to register as a sex offender.

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