Upon arriving in Oakdale, Ben Harris became reacquainted with the Kasnoff family (childhood friends of his), and through Sarah Kasnoff, met fashion model Zoe Crane. Zoe was being abused by her boyfriend, and Ben fell for her as he tried to save her. Though Zoe had feelings for him, she left town with her boyfriend a few months later.
In the spring 1997, Ben was introduced to Camille Bennett. He encouraged her to work toward becoming a doctor, and after a few months of casually dating Jessica Griffin, he soon fell in love with Camille and began seeing her. Ben’s most traumatic event occurred when he was arrested in the park while jogging. Ben was mistaken for a mugging suspect but he claimed that the arresting officer used unnecessary force because he was black. Due to Ben's insistence, the arresting officer, Joe Teague, was exposed as a bigot and was thrown off the force. Teague began stalking Ben and eventually planted a bomb outside Milltown Baptist Church (a place Ben had worshipped at off and on for years) with most of the town inside. The church was destroyed, and cop Jack Snyder began investigating. The saga ended in a mountain cabin, with Ben and Lucinda Walsh arriving moments before Teague was going to kill Jack and Carly Tenney. Ben shot and killed Teague. With Ben's help, the Milltown Baptist Church has since been rebuilt.
Also complicating Ben's life, at this time, was Camille's slimy ex-boyfriend, Dr. Lewis McCloud. He stalked Ben and Camille (pretending to be Teague) hoping that Ben would stay away from Camille. Preying on Camille's vulnerabilities, Lew slept with her. Ben found out, and was very upset with Camille. When Lew's wife was killed, and he was paralyzed, in the church explosion, Camille took care of him. Lew hid his ability to walk until, one day, he stood and attempted to rape Camille. Luckily, Ben stopped him in time, and Lew went to prison. Ben's relationship with Camille was strained later though when she developed breast cancer. Ben had a tendency to be controlling and overprotective and he ended up scaring Camille away. Her friend, Brad Snyder, comforted her and made her like herself again. She slept with him, and finally told Ben days before they were to marry. Ben angrily dumped her.
Meanwhile, abuse victim and stripper Denise Maynard was brought into Ben's free clinic. Ben soon began trying to save her, getting her a "respectable" job and helping her to locate the child that she'd sold at birth. When they discovered that Holden and Lily Snyder had baby Hope (switched at birth for their daughter, by David Stenbeck), Ben aggressively pushed them to give Denise her daughter back, and eventually, they agreed. At the same time, Ben became close to Curtis, a teenager from a broken home who Isaac was looking after. In time, Ben and Curtis grew close and Ben sought custody of the boy and with the help of his lawyer, Lien Hughes, he won. Soon, Ben and Lien grew closer and starting dating. Then tragedy struck when Lien fell ill from an exotic illness. The only hope he saw for her was in an illegal experimental drug. Desperate to save Lien, Ben told her father about the drug and administered it. After she recovered, Ben proposed marriage, however, Lien realized that she didn't really love him and she turned down his proposal and left town.
The time not spent with her, Curtis, or at work, Ben was spent talking to Isaac about Isaac's love life. Ben and Isaac didn't get along for years, since Isaac was a product of one of Ben’s father’s affairs and because Isaac had underworld ties. However, as Isaac became more legitimate and proved himself, Ben accepted him as a member of the family. About this time, Ben rekindled his romance with D.A. Jessica Griffin. Unfortunately, the relationship came under strain by Jessica's involvement with lawyer Marshall Travers. When Marshall told Ben about his and Jess's affair, a hurt Ben severed his ties to Jessica and refused to forgive her. Though the pair soon reconciled, Ben still couldn't get over his hatred of Marshall. Though he was able to put his hatred aside in order to save Marshall's life after he'd been shot, he found himself in legal trouble when he almost killed Marshall by nicking his artery. Though Marshall dropped the lawsuit, Jessica's closeness to him continued to irritate Ben. Knowing that Marshall faced jail time for his crime (of aiding James Stenbeck), Jessica offered that he be released in her custody until the trial. Unfortunately, Jessica would regret that decision when one night Marshall forced himself on her. Though the next day, he claimed that it was consensual, it was clear that a distraught Jessica disagreed and she filed charges against him.
Although an unrepentant Marshall pleaded with her to drop the case and threatened to use an old videotape of them making love to embarrass her, Jess refused to back down and went on with the charges. Realizing that Marshall truly did not see what he'd done to her, Jess cornered him in court and forced him to finally see that he had indeed raped her. Marshall's acknowledgment of guilt was enough to vindicate Jess, and knowing that he did not intentionally mean to do it, she dropped the charges. Months later, Ben and Jess would marry and plan on having a child. Although there were concerns that getting pregnant would be difficult since Jess was pre-menopause, they decided to give it a try to were elated when Jess did get pregnant. Unfortunately, Ben's world would come crashing down when Jessica lost the baby. Worried that the baby may have had a genetic defect (which would have explained the miscarriage) Ben asked for a test to be run. Later, to his utter shock, he learned that he could not have fathered Jessica's baby! Confronted, Jessica was forced to confess that she had a meaningless one-night stand with a former football player named "Doc" Reese.
Disgusted, Ben immediately filed for divorce and ended up punching Reese when they came face to face. Unfortunately, he ended up injuring his hand in the process. Ben then began taking pain killers to ease the pain. But the stress of Jess's betrayal only aggravated the injury, which led to more pain, which led to him taking more painkillers and soon he found himself on the cusp of an addiction. In the meantime, Ben was forbidden to perform surgery at the hospital until his hand was fully healed, which meant he needed to verify that he was no longer on pain killers. Ben was desperate to get back to work though and faked a urine test. Now back on the job, Ben fought the urge to take the pills and though he was able to resist the temptation, it left him irritable and distracted. While struggling with this situation, Ben was called in to perform brain surgery on Aaron Snyder who'd sustained a head injury. Ben's condition wasn't lost on Dr. John Dixon who quietly filed an incident report. Although the operation seemed to go well, Aaron's condition did not improve and, when the incident report was discovered, the Snyders initiated a malpractice suit against Ben. Although he insisted that he didn't make any mistakes during the surgery, Ben resigned in order to prevent the hospital from being sued as well. Luckily though, he was reinstated after he performed successful surgery to reverse Aaron's paralysis. That was the last we saw of Ben. Years later, we learned that he'd moved to Philadelphia.