Southern New Hampshire University raised no red flags when it supplied a job reference for a Concord teacher now facing sex crimes involving a minor, though the suspect had faced a stalking-related complaint while employed at the university, officials disclosed.
SNHU business professor Susan Losapio only confirmed Joshua Harwood’s dates of employment when an assistant high school principal asked about him in February 2020, said Larry Prince, the school district’s director of human resources.
“There were no red flags,” Prince told the Union Leader. He hired Harwood two months later.
Last week, Concord police arrested Harwood on prostitution and child pornography charges involving a boy who was 16 when they first met online.
A SNHU spokesman said Tuesday that the university did not receive a request for a reference on Harwood through official channels.
If Concord school officials had contacted the university human resources department, they would have been warned about Harwood, said SNHU spokeswoman Lauren Keane.
Keane said professors are not privy to the reasons for a colleague’s firing.
“If an SNHU (administrative) official was contacted or employment dates were verified, they would have been informed that Harwood was terminated mid-semester, and SNHU would not have recommended that he teach in any capacity, as we have done with previous requests related to Mr. Harwood,” Keane wrote in an email.
Harwood’s termination did not involve a criminal offense that would require reporting to the authorities or the New Hampshire Department of Education, Keane said.
During a hearing Tuesday on possible bail, Merrimack County prosecutor George Waldron said SNHU had taken action against Harwood for accusations involving sexual contact with a student and for pursuing a relationship with a student.
Harwood taught business-related courses and served as a faculty adviser at SNHU for more than three years before he was fired in April 2019.
Harwood appeared in a Merrimack County Superior Court video hearing on Tuesday seeking release before an eventual trial. Superior Court Judge John Kissinger denied bail and ordered him to remain in jail.
Police have said that Harwood began a relationship with a Concord High School student in January 2019, when the boy was 16 and Harwood was still at SNHU. It involved Harwood paying for sex and watching the boy perform a lewd act via video.
Each time, Harwood would send payments via Venmo, a mobile payment service owned by PayPal. The activity stopped for about a year and then resumed in March 2020. Police said the activity stopped because of Harwood’s problems with SNHU.
The victim contacted Concord High School officials in December, when he believed Harwood posed as a high school student seeking relationships with other youths.
Authorities said Tuesday that Harwood used the Concord High School wifi to access Grindr, a dating site used by gay, bisexual and transgender people. He appeared to make contact with potential partners while at his desk at school.
During the bail hearing, Harwood’s mother and Harwood’s wife told Kissinger they would be willing to have Harwood live with them. His wife, Krystina Harwood, said he is a fantastic father to their daughters, 3 and 6.
Harwood’s mother, Laura Harwood of Concord, said, “I’ve very proud of him. He’s a wonderful, caring son. I’ll do everything to make sure he gets through this.”
Krystina Harwood, who does not believe the SNHU allegations, helped her husband write 37 counter-arguments to the allegations, she said.
In denying bail, Kissinger noted Harwood’s alleged crimes and said he couldn’t guarantee the community would be safe.
“I can have someone on a bracelet. I can have someone controlled, but what I can’t control is 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week access to the internet,” he said.