HUNTINGTON — Marshall University says it will make a determination on Wednesday, June 12, regarding the status of a student who was accused of an on-campus sexual assault in 2016 and now faces charges related to two more sexual assaults that are alleged to have occurred off-campus.
Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, was booked in jail at 1 p.m. Friday on a probation hold related to a 2017 plea to battery in his original case. He was jailed the day after an indictment was unsealed charging him with second-degree sexual assault in two incidents that occurred in September and October 2018. He is currently held in Western Regional Jail without bond.
The Cabell County grand jury returned the new indictment last week, and it was unsealed by Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred E. Ferguson on Friday. An indictment does not determine guilt or innocence and the case will now move forward toward trial.
The university issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
“Marshall University is diligently pursuing every option available, within the bounds of legal and privacy limits, to address the newest allegations against Mr. Joseph Chase Hardin, a Marshall student, and to keep its campus safe. To that end, the university is now in the process of determining appropriate disciplinary action and anticipates a final decision will be made within 24 hours.
"... Due to federal privacy regulations, the university will not be releasing any additional information about this situation until a final disciplinary decision is reached and a follow-up statement is issued by close of business tomorrow, Wednesday, June 12.”
Hardin is scheduled to appear in Cabell Circuit Judge Greg Howard's courtroom at 9 a.m. Wednesday for a hearing regarding his potential probation revocation. His new case has been assigned to Ferguson, who oversaw the original case. Ferguson has not yet set an arraignment date for the charges in the new indictments, according to court officials.
In the original case, Hardin was indicted in 2016 on a single count of second-degree sexual assault after a female student, who has since left the university, implicated him. In that case, he entered a Kennedy plea to misdemeanor battery in 2017 and was sentenced to serve three years' probation. A Kennedy plea allows a conviction without the defendant admitting guilt or explaining his role in a crime.
An ongoing federal lawsuit filed by the alleged victim against the university describes a botched disciplinary process after the alleged 2016 rape as well as a pattern of harassment by Hardin, the Associated Press reported. It says Hardin's continued attendance at Marshall forced the first victim to leave the college.
After the woman reported the attack, the college expelled Hardin but he was allowed to remain on campus during an appeal process. The college didn't place any restrictions that would prevent the woman from encountering Hardin, according to the lawsuit.
The June 2019 indictment charges Hardin with four felony counts of second-degree sexual assault involving the alleged rape of two female victims on two different dates in September and October. These most recent charges did not include allegations that the attacks took place on campus and the Marshall University Police Department was not involved in the cases, according to Leah Payne, director of communications at Marshall University.
Hardin has been continuously enrolled at Marshall since 2016 and as of Monday was enrolled for the fall semester.