ATLANTA – A federal jury on Wednesday convicted a former pro wrestler known as "Hardbody Harrison" of charges that he kept eight women as sex slaves in his two north Georgia homes.
Norris Harrison Jr. was convicted of charges including aggravated sexual abuse, forced labor, sex trafficking, conspiracy and witness tampering. He was acquitted of all charges involving a ninth woman, but still could get life in prison at sentencing, set for Feb. 28.
Harrison, 41, wrestled for the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling organization in the 1990s.
Serving as his own lawyer, he contended that the women willingly lived at his Cartersville homes because they wanted to train as pro wrestlers. He says many of them arrived on drugs and left in the best shape of their lives.
During a two-week trial, prosecutors portrayed Harrison as a predator who used his wrestling business to lure poor and vulnerable women into prostitution and forced labor.
"I think the jury's verdict vindicates the rights of the victims who were brave enough to come forward and confront this man who abused them," prosecutor Susan Coppedge said.
Witnesses testified that Harrison, a former Army sergeant and veteran of the Persian Gulf War, imposed a strict military structure, with each of the women assigned to a squad overseen by an "enforcer."
One witness testified that Harrison beat or threatened them to keep control and that he threatened to throw one through a hotel window when she would not engage in sex with two customers.
In addition to forcing the victims to work as prostitutes, Harrison made them work in and around his houses, requiring them to haul trees, lay sod and paint, according to testimony.