Authorities say a dangerous child predator they have been searching for since 2005 has finally been caught.

Duane David Harouse, 42, was arrested last week in Pennsylvania after authorities there discovered he was wanted in Erath County, according to Det. Sgt. Alan Williamson with the Stephenville Police Department.

An Erath County sheriff’s deputy flew to Pennsylvania and escorted Harouse to Erath County Thursday, where he is being held on a $50,000 bond.

Williamson said he has been working the case since 2004, when it was referred to him by Child Protective Services.

“It’s taken a while for us to get him,” Williamson said.

Harouse was charged in 2005 with aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14, but fled to Pennsylvania before authorities here could arrest him.

He is suspected of sexually assaulting two female Erath County residents he is related to.

Harouse was taken into custody by Pennsylvania authorities in late 2005, then sat in jail for six months before a judge let him out.

“I have no idea why the judge let him go before he was brought back to Texas,” Williamson said.

Within a week, Harouse had fled again, and the hunt for the suspected child molester was back on.

In November 2006, another warrant was issued for Harouse. This time he was wanted for indecency with a child, stemming from a separate incident involving the same girls.

Using false identification and staying on the move, Harouse was able to elude authorities until last week, when his vehicle caught fire in Pennsylvania and authorities there discovered he had outstanding warrants in Erath County.

“This time we had a different judge (in Pennsylvania) and he helped us get him here,” Williamson said. “It feels good to finally get him off the street.”

SARA VANDEN BERGE is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 240.