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Deadliest Catch Has Fired Star Josh Harris Over Sexual Assault Allegations

As one of the more prolific and expansive reality TV franchises of the past two decades, Deadliest Catch remains a big draw for Discovery and its viewers, and is in the midst of airing its 18th season, while the spinoff Deadliest Catch: Bloodline wrapped its third season in June. In a bit of disturbing news, one of the stars from both, fisherman Josh Harris, has been fired from the series after reports resurfaced pointing to Harris’ 1999 arrest stemming from allegations that he’d raped a four-year-old girl the year before. 

Josh Harris was the subject of an allegation-filled report from Factz.com, which laid out the disturbing details tied to a 1998 crime and Harris’ 1999 arrest. (The renewed attention to the case is possibly the result of a since-deleted Reddit post about the case that was shared in late August.) And now, according to Radar.com, the Discovery series has officially cut ties with Harris, whose father Phil Harris was the O.G. captain on Deadliest Catch ahead of his death in 2010.

Here’s how a Discovery representative put it:

We've been made aware of this issue. Josh will not appear in future episodes of this series.

It’s unclear at this point whether episodes will be re-cut to remove Harris from the footage, or if the upcoming episodes pointed their focus elsewhere beyond the fisherman and his boat, the Cornelia Marie. As well, it’s unknown how these developments will play into the potential future of the Bloodline spinoff, and whether or not former episodes will be edited at all for repeats and for streaming with a Discovery+ subscription.

Content warning for those sensitive to the topic of sexual assault.

Josh Harris was accused of the digital, vaginal and oral rape of a four-year-old girl who was said to be the daughter of a deckhand and family friend. The rape dates back to July 1998, when Harris would have been around 15 or 16. Semen and blood stains were found at the scene at the time, and the girl was apparently quoted in the official affidavit referring to her and Harris' genitals as their "pee-pees." 

Due to DNA processing delays, Harris wasn’t formally arrested until 1999. The future reality star reportedly pleaded to lesser charges — Assault 4 and immoral communication with a minor — and served nine months. Also, as part of his sentencing, Harris reportedly took part in a psychosexual exam. 

It’s no secret that the Deadliest Catch franchise has been connected to quite a few unfortunate incidents over the years. Back in 2015, former producer Joseph McMahon was shot to death outside his apartment, and that was the same year that star Tony Lara died of a cardiac arrest. Three years later, former Captain Blake Painter passed away, while 2020 saw the deaths of deckhand Mahlon Reyes and fisherman Nick McGlashan

Jake Harris, brother of Josh and son of Phil, is also a former cast member, and one whose life took a hard left turn after his father’s death. He’s had publicized substance abuse problems, and was arrested for a DUI in Washington in 2021. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.