Former Concord High teacher accused of soliciting a minor for sex was previously fired by SNHU

  • Harwood

Monitor staff
Published: 2/5/2021 3:05:20 PM

During his first and only year as a teacher at Concord High School, prosecutors say Joshua Harwood sent inappropriate text messages and solicited a sexually explicit live video session from a former CHS student, which he viewed from a school classroom on a Wednesday afternoon according to video footage from the Concord High School surveillance system that was obtained by police. 

Joshua Harwood, 38, of Manchester, a former Concord High teacher, was arraigned in Merrimack County Superior Court on Friday on charges including prostitution involving a child under the age of 18, two counts of prostitution and solicitation to commit sexual contact, endangering the welfare of a child, possession of child sexual abuse images and two counts of manufacture of child sexual abuse images. His defense lawyer, Andrew Winters, entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

The hearing took place virtually a day after Harwood was arrested. Harwood tuned in via video from Merrimack County jail, where he continues to be held without bail. Harwood appeared in an orange jumpsuit with a cinder block wall behind him.

Prosecuting attorney Molly Lovell said Harwood began communicating with the male victim via the social media apps Grindr and Snapchat in early January 2019, when the victim  was 16 and a junior at Concord High School. Harwood was employed by Southern New Hampshire University at the time. The victim said these interactions led to Harwood going to the victim’s Concord residence, where he solicited a sex act with the victim in exchange for money, which was paid via Venmo. The victim said he showed Harwood his Concord High School ID card at the time, suggesting Harwood knew he was a student, according to court documents.

Harwood is accused of continuing to communicate with the victim online, and solicit sexually explicit material from him in exchange for money, which was sent via the online payment app Venmo. There were 36 Venmo transactions showing Harwood paid the victim a total of $642, according to court documents.

On December 16, 2020 the same victim said he was contacted by a blank Grindr profile that was claiming to be a Concord High School junior, but  prosecutors say it was Harwood who was using the private account. The victim initially provided his Instagram contact information, but then ended communications because he “grew concerned about the individual’s age,” according to the affidavit. Harwood then allegedly contacted the victim via his personal Instagram account, while he was at work at Concord High School, asking for nude photos and asked the victim to engage in sexual acts. During a brief live video interaction, the victim said he could see a bulletin board and map of the United States behind him, and Harwood said he was at work. Records of a Concord Police search show Harwood accessed Grindr on his phone via the Concord High School wireless network three times that day.

After looking Harwood up online and realizing he was a teacher at Concord High School, the victim alerted Concord School District administrators, according to court documents.

It’s not the first time Harwood has been accused of sexual misconduct. 

Lovell said Harwood was fired from his job at Southern New Hampshire University in 2019, after an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct with a university student. The SNHU student alleged that in March 2019, Harwood sent explicit photos of himself in his office to the student, while making advances of a sexual nature, and inviting the student to his office to engage in sexual acts. Harwood appealed the university’s decision at the time, claiming his electronic device was hacked. The university reviewed his appeal, but upheld its decision to terminate his employment.

“Given the length of time the behavior occurred for, the sheer number of times the defendant tried to solicit a minor to perform sexual acts over this time, the defendant’s history of sexually inappropriate behavior which resulted in termination from his employment...the defendant is a danger to the community,” Lovell said. “If the defendant has an internet connection, he has the potential to reach out to other minors and can conduct more crimes from within the privacy of his own home. For the safety of the community, there is no choice but to continue to detain the defendant.”

Judge John Kissinger agreed, saying Harwood’s history of contacting victims online would pose a threat to the community since it is hard to control his access to the internet. 

“To say that these allegations are very troubling would be an understatement,” Kissinger said. “The defendant is a high school teacher. This is a position of trust in our society which involves direct contact on an ongoing basis with minors. In my view, given the nature of the charges and given his role and given a recent effort to pose as a minor in order to engage in sex acts for money...all of that is very disturbing and leads me to conclude that the defendants is a danger to the safety of the community.”  

Harwood was hired by the Concord School  District in July 2020. The CHS website shows that his schedule this semester included classes in Money Management, Economics, and Entrepreneurship. When the victim reported Harwood to school administrators on Dec. 16, Harwood was placed on administrative leave and issued a no trespass order for school grounds, pending the result of a police investigation. 

In addition to Concord High School and Southern New Hampshire University, Harwood also taught at Manchester Community College and Daniel Webster College, according to a 2018 faculty profile of him that appeared in the Penmen Press, SNHU’s student newspaper.

Harwood will appear in court again for an evidentiary hearing on Feb. 9. 

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