Man suspected in campus rape accused twice more

Hardin

HUNTINGTON — A man currently serving probation for battery after he was accused of an on-campus sexual assault of a then-fellow Marshall University student has been charged with several new counts after two additional alleged rape victims came forward.

Joseph 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.

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.

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, the defendant 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.

The university had issued a campuswide alert at 6:20 p.m. Feb. 1, 2016, that a student reported she was assaulted that afternoon in a room at an on-campus residence hall.

Hardin entered a Kennedy plea to misdemeanor battery in 2017 and was sentenced to serve three years' probation in that case. A Kennedy plea allows a conviction without the defendant admitting guilt or explaining his role in a crime.

A lawsuit filed by the alleged victim is currently pending against the university in federal court.

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.

The Herald-Dispatch typically does not disclose the name of sexual assault victims, given the nature of the crime.

Hardin has been continuously enrolled at Marshall since 2016, said Leah Payne, communications director for Marshall, and as of Monday was enrolled for the fall semester.

Payne said the most recent charges did not include allegation that the attacks took place on campus and the Marshall University Police Department was not involved in the cases.

Hardin is currently housed at Western Regional Jail in Barboursville without bond.

CONTACT Rape Crisis Center provides free and confidential services to victims of sexual assault and stalking in Cabell, Lincoln, Wayne and Mason counties. CONTACT can be reached at 866-399-7273 or 304-399-1111.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD. Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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