UPDATE | Trial date set for Hardin sexual assault case

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 7/30/19 @ 5:34 p.m.
A trial date has been set for a former Marshall University student charged with sexual assault.

Joseph Chase Hardin took the stand Friday, July 26. After his testimony, the judge revoked Hardin's probation and reinstated his original jail sentence from a 2016 case.

The two cases against Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, will be tried together at 9 a.m. Sept. 3. Two female Marshall students accused Hardin of attacking them in separate incidents off-campus in the fall of 2018.

Hardin is currently in jail serving his sentence from a previous conviction. In 2016, a third Marshall University student said Hardin attacked her in her dorm room.

Although he was originally charged with sexual assault in the 2016 case, Hardin, still a student at the time, entered a Kennedy plea and was convicted of a misdemeanor battery charge. Judge Alfred Ferguson originally sentenced him to one year in jail, but suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation.

On July 26, 2019, Judge Ferguson revoked Hardin's probation and reinstated the jail sentence. The judge said Hardin violated the terms of his probation by drinking and allegedly committing new crimes.

"When the defendant testified today, it's obvious that he's quite intelligent, he can be poised, but he can also be a manipulator, to me," Ferguson said as he made his ruling at the probation hearing.

Hardin was also a student at the time of the alleged assaults in 2018. Marshall University eventually expelled him June 11, 2019 for violating student conduct policies.

The 22-year-old has maintained his innocence in each case.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.

UPDATE 7/26/19 @ 3:56 p.m.
Before Judge Alfred Ferguson sent Joseph Chase Hardin to jail, he told the courtroom "it's obvious" from his testimony that the suspect is intelligent and poised, but manipulative.

Joseph Chase Hardin took the stand Friday in his probation revocation hearing in connection to a 2016 sexual assault case.

After his testimony, the judge revoked Hardin's probation and reinstated his original jail sentence from that case.

Three female students have accused Hardin, a former Marshall University student, of attacking them over the last few years.

"When a woman or a man or a kid says no, that's the end of it," Ferguson said as he revoked Hardin's probation in connection with a 2016 case.

In 2016, a female Marshall University student said Hardin attacked her in her dorm room. Although he was originally charged with sexual assault, Hardin, still a student at the time, entered a Kennedy plea and was convicted of the misdemeanor battery charge. Ferguson originally sentenced Hardin to one year in jail, but suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation.

The judge says Hardin violated his probation by drinking alcohol and allegedly committing new crimes. Ferguson reinstated the one-year jail sentence Friday, but Hardin will get credit for the 50 days he has already spent behind bars.

Hardin is currently facing sexual assault charges for the second time. Two other female students have accused him of attacking them in separate incidents off-campus in the fall of 2018.

During Hardin's testimony Friday, he said that all the acts were consensual. However, prosecutors said there were inconsistencies with his story.

After the ruling Friday, WSAZ spoke with Alicia Gonzales, the victim from the original case in 2016. She told WSAZ that she felt a small sense of justice.

"I just felt so overwhelmed," Gonzales said. "I have felt like there has been so much injustice throughout this process so right now, I just feel overwhelmed."

Gonzales' father was also in the courtroom when the decision was made.

"It's one of these small victories where you can say there is finally justice for Alicia," said Alicia's father, Keith.

Hardin was a student at the time of all three alleged assaults. Marshall University eventually expelled Hardin on June 11, 2019, for violating student-conduct policies.

WSAZ will continue to follow along as Hardin's new charges, stemming from the 2018 incidents, play out in court.

Hardin is expected back in court on Tuesday, July 30 for a pre-trial hearing in the newest cases.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.



UPDATE 7/26/19 @ 12:21 p.m.
A judge has reinstated a jail sentence for a former Marshall University student charged with sexual assault for the second time.

Three different female students have accused Joseph Chase Hardin of attacking them over the last few years. Hardin is currently facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting two female students in separate incidents off-campus in the fall of 2018. However, Hardin's hearing Friday was connected to a previous case involving a third woman.

Law enforcement charged Hardin with sexual assault in 2016 after a Marshall student said he attacked her in her dorm room. Hardin, still a student at the time, entered a Kennedy plea and was convicted of a misdemeanor battery charge.

Judge Alfred Ferguson originally sentenced him to a year in jail for the 2016 case, but suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation.

Prosecutors say Hardin violated the terms of his probation by drinking alcohol and allegedly committing new crimes.

In court Friday, Judge Ferguson revoked Hardin's probation and reinstated the one-year jail sentence. Hardin will get credit for the 50 days he has already spent behind bars.

WSAZ will continue to follow along as Hardin's new charges, stemming from the 2018 incidents, play out in court.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.



UPDATE 7/9/19 @ 6:30 p.m.
After a full morning of testimony in court during the final probation revocation hearing for former Marshall University student, Joseph Chase Hardin, a decision wasn't made.

Judge Alfred Ferguson says he didn't realize the hearing was going to take so long and decided to continue it until July 26.

The hearing was in connection to a 2016 sexual assault case. Hardin was accused of sexually assaulting another student on Marshall's campus.

He later entered a Kennedy plea to a lesser charge of battery in that case and was sentenced to three years probation.

Hardin is currently serving out that probation. Prosecutors are now pushing that it be revoked and a jail sentence that he avoided be reinstated.

Prosecutors say Hardin violated his terms of probation by drinking alcohol and sexually assaulting two other students in separate incidents off-campus last fall.

The alleged incidents happened in September and October of 2018.

During Tuesday's hearing, several witnesses took the stand to testify including Huntington Police Detective Ted Backus, Hardin's probation officer, his sister and one of the newest alleged victims.

Detective Backus testified that one incident in 2018 happened in October in an SUV in a museum parking lot in Huntington. He testified that some of the sexual acts were consensual, but that later, the victim withdrew consent.

Hardin's attorney maintains that the sexual acts were accidental and that Hardin stopped when he was asked to stop.

Backus testified that the other assault happened in September of 2018. He said Hardin and the victim were in her home off-campus and were watching a movie when Hardin started inappropriately touching her.

He claims that the victim says she told Hardin to stop but that he didn't.

Hardin's sister also took the stand Tuesday. She testified that she was close friends with the victim and that she met her brother at a bar a couple weeks before the alleged incident happened.

She claimed that the victim never mentioned anything about what happened to her.

"She never told you about it?," asked Kerry Nessel, Hardin's attorney. "No," responded Olivia Hardin. "Did she ever make any inclination that your brother did something inappropriate?," asked Nessel. "No," said Hardin.

One of the alleged victims of Hardin took the stand to testify. Investigators say she and the other victim didn't immediately come forward to report the alleged incidents.

Detective Backus said that is common with a lot of sexual assault cases.

The victim who testified said she didn't come forward immediately because she was in denial about what happened.

"I just tried to normalize what happened to me to avoid having to deal with the issue," said the alleged victim. "I tried to separate it from my mind, and that's why me and him never talked about it."

However, Hardin's attorney brought up text messages that were exchanged between the two after the alleged incident, saying they seemed to talk about the incident in a "positive way."

After hours of testimony from several witnesses, no decision was made on the probation revocation. The judge continued it until July 26.

At that hearing, other witnesses are expected to take the stand including the other alleged victim and Hardin himself.

For now, Hardin remains in jail.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information on this case.



UPDATE 7/9/19 @ 12:23 p.m.
Several people testified in a Cabell County courtroom Tuesday morning in the case of a former Marshall University student facing sexual assault charges for the second time.

Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, was in court for a probation hearing connected to a 2016 case. He was charged with sexual assault in 2016 after a Marshall student said Hardin attacked her in her dorm room. Hardin, still a student at the time, entered a Kennedy plea and was convicted of a misdemeanor battery charge. Judge Alfred Ferguson gave him probation.

Hardin is now facing four new counts of second-degree sexual assault. He is accused of sexually assaulting two other female students off-campus in September and October of 2018.

Prosecutors want his probation in the 2016 case revoked now that he is facing new criminal charges.

In court Tuesday, several people testified including a detective, Hardin's sister, Hardin's probation officer, and one of the alleged victims from the 2018 case. Due to time constraints, Judge Ferguson continued the probation hearing to 9 a.m. on Friday, July 26.

Hardin was a student at the time of all three alleged assaults. Marshall University eventually expelled him June 11, 2019 for violating student conduct policies.

UPDATE 7/9/19 @ 7:30 a.m.
Former Marshall University student Joseph Chase Hardin is due in Cabell County court Tuesday morning for a final probation hearing connected to a 2016 sexual assault case.

The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Hardin has been charged with four new sexual assault charges this spring.

Hardin was serving three years probation for a 2016 case where Hardin was charged with sexually assaulting a student in her dorm room. He was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor battery charge.

Prosecutors say the new charges violated the probation, and they want Hardin's probation revoked.

If Hardin's probation is revoked, a jail sentence could be reinstated.

Hardin is being held in the Western Regional jail.

This is a developing story. Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.

UPDATE 7/3/19 @ 8 p.m.
For the first time since sexual assault cases involving a former Marshall student brought the wrong kind of national attention to the university, we're hearing directly from Marshall President Jerome Gilbert.

Joseph Chase Hardin was indicted and jailed last month on second-degree sexual assault charges related to two alleged rapes in 2018.

Those charges came after Hardin had been charged previously with sexual assault in 2016, but he took a Kennedy plea to a misdemeanor charge of battery, and continued taking classes at Marshall.

The student who says she was raped by Hardin in 2016 says she felt betrayed by her school after Hardin was allowed to remain enrolled.

Until now, the university had denied WSAZ's requests for an interview, but Wednesday President Gilbert answered questions about the case.

When asked if he had any regrets over how Marshall handled the case from 2016, Gilbert said "I don't think there are any regrets. We certainly feel sorry for Miss Gonzales and certainly would've liked for things to come out differently than what they did, but we have to go with our process."

That process has now changed. President Gilbert says the university recently made a policy switch regarding sexual assault cases.

"We have a better process in terms of how we go through it and who's on the committee, those sorts of things," Gilbert said. "It's a very complicated process."

Hardin was reinstated at Marshall after he made a Kennedy plea to a battery charge connected to the first accusation from 2016.

When asked why Hardin was reinstated despite being convicted of something that's an expellable offense in the university's student code of conduct, Gilbert said, "Well, I don't want to get into that, but I will say that we found him not guilty, a panel did, and that was the decision that remained. I actually had him banned from campus after that."

The problems continued for Hardin, who was expelled from Marshall on June 11 after being charged with sexually assaulting two other female students off campus last September and October.

"He went through a process on Marshall's campus," Gilbert said. "It took about five months to go through it, and at the end of that process, we decided there was enough evidence to expel him."

WSAZ asked if Hardin's expulsion means other students who are charged with sexual assault could be expelled before they're convicted, as well. President Gilbert said they could be, and it would depend the situation.

Hardin's lawyer has said his client claims he's innocent. Hardin has a probation revocation hearing scheduled Tuesday.



UPDATE 7/2/19 @ 2:19 p.m.
A former Marshall University student accused of sexual assault appeared in court Tuesday.

Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, stood before a Cabell County judge to schedule his probation revocation hearing. The judge set a hearing date for Tuesday, June 9.

Prosecutors want Hardin's probation revoked from a previous case. He was charged with sexual assault back in 2016, but took a Kennedy plea in 2017 to a misdemeanor charge of battery. Judge Alfred Ferguson sentenced him to a year in jail, but suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation.

The state says Hardin violated his probation when he allegedly committed new crimes. The former student is now accused of assaulting two different female students off-campus in September and October of 2018.

Hardin is currently in the Western Regional Jail. Marshall expelled him on Tuesday, June 11 of this year.

UPDATE 6/25/19 @ 3 p.m.
Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, appeared in court Tuesday morning for his arraignment on the four new sexual assault charges filed against him.

The former Marshall University student entered a not guilty plea. Hardin is accused of sexually assaulting two students off-campus in September and October of 2018.

The new charges were filed while he was out on probation for a separate case from 2016. In that case, Hardin was charged with sexually assaulting a student in her dormitory.

However, Hardin entered a Kennedy plea in 2017 to a lesser charge of battery in the case and was given probation. Investigators say he violated his probation though and asked that his probation be revoked since the new charges were filed.

WSAZ typically does not identify sexual assault victims, however, the victim in the 2016 case has given permission to identify her.

Alicia Gonzales was in court Tuesday morning for Hardin's hearing. Gonzales sat with the two newest alleged victims, all wearing shirts that said "#Metoo Keep Fighting."

During Tuesday morning's hearing, Hardin's attorney maintained his client's innocence, saying he has evidence to prove his client is not guilty. He also requested the right to a speedy trial.

He said Hardin will not be taking a plea in the new cases.

Hardin was a student at Marshall University, but was expelled on June 11 amid the newest allegations.

Hardin is set to be back in court on July 2 for a final probation revocation hearing in the original 2016 case. A pre-trial hearing on the new charges has been set for July 26.



UPDATE 6/12/19 @ 7 p.m.
A Marshall University student, who is now facing new sexual assault charges, has been expelled from the university.

The university announced Wednesday morning that Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, had been expelled from the university for disciplinary reasons, citing the university's SA-3 Student Conduct Disciplinary Procedures.

The university says it determined that Hardin violated the Board of Governors Policy GA-1, as it related to sections 3.3.4 and 3.4.1

Section 3.3.4 says: "Sexual Harassment" is a form of discrimination that includes verbal, written, or physical behavior of a sexual nature, directed at someone, or against a particular group, because of that person's or group's sex, or based on gender stereotypes, when that behavior is unwelcome and meets either of the following criteria."

Section 3.4.1 says: "Sexual Misconduct" is defined as any act of a sexual nature perpetrated against an individual without effective consent or when an individual is unable to freely give consent.

Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert said in a statement, "We have taken, and will continue to take, aggressive steps to make sure the entire Marshall community is safe. I have zero tolerance for inappropriate, illegal behavior, and pledge that we will always treat sexual misconduct and violence with the utmost gravity. The safety of our students is our first obligation."

WSAZ once again asked for an interview with President Gilbert, but that request was denied.

University officials say the decision to expel Hardin is final.

WSAZ also asked the university why Hardin was expelled with these latest charges but wasn't with the last charge.

This is the response WSAZ was given from university officials: "FERPA (the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) only allows us to disclose the name of the student, the violation committed and the sanction imposed."

The decision to expel Hardin came on the same day as his court appearance, where he waived his preliminary probation revocation hearing.

This was the first step to revoking his probation because of new sexual assault charges against him. Those charges were just filed on Friday. They stem from the alleged off-campus rapes of two students last fall.

Hardin has been out on probation since 2017, when he entered a Kennedy plea to a lesser charge of battery in the 2016 case. He was sentenced to a year in jail, but Judge Alfred Ferguson suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation. Following these new charges, prosecutors are requesting the judge revoke his probation and reinstate a jail sentence.

Hardin's case will now return to Judge Ferguson's courtroom for a final probation revocation hearing. A date for the hearing in Judge Ferguson's courtroom has not been set yet.

Friends and family of both the two latest alleged victims and the 2016 victim were in the courtroom Wednesday. However, WSAZ is not identifying the victims.

"If we step down, he will assault another woman," said Madison Summers, a friend of the 2016 victim. "I hope he gets the maximum. I really do. I think if he is in prison for the rest of his life, then that is justice. At least a little bit of justice."

Keith Gonzales, the grandfather of the 2016 victim, was also there. He says he is hoping his granddaughter's case will urge other victims to tell their stories.

"To see how that played out the first time with my granddaughter, and to know she didn't get the justice that she deserved, and now to see this, my prayer is that justice will be served and that other women this has happened to, that they speak up," Gonzales said. "To know that it took this long for him to finally get what he deserves, I hope it's just the beginning. I really truly believe he needs to be found guilty on all these charges and given the fullest extent of the charges and then be put away where he won't hurt anybody anymore."

The victim of the 2016 case still has an open Title IX lawsuit against the university board of governors, claiming the university failed to protect her from Hardin by allowing him to remain a student even after being convicted on a lesser charge of battery in the case.

No ruling has been made on that lawsuit.

WSAZ reached out to Hardin and his attorney for comment. However, those requests were denied due to the ongoing case.



UPDATE 6/12/19 @ 5:45 p.m.
The YMCA of Huntington released a statement about the arrest of a staff member -- a student at Marshall University who is facing sexual assault charges for the second time.

Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, is facing four counts of second-degree sexual assault. According to court records, Hardin is accused of attacking two female students on separate occasions off campus in the fall of 2018.

He was also arrested for sexual assault in 2016 after a female student said he assaulted her on campus, but he was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor battery charge after entering a Kennedy plea. That type of plea means the defendant accepts punishment, but does not admit guilt.

WSAZ reported Tuesday that Hardin is an employee of the YMCA in Huntington and he has worked there since before the first incident three years ago.

Hardin was already working at the Huntington YMCA when he was arrested on the sexual assault charge in 2016 as a 19-year-old. Employees say he continued to work at the May building after his arrest. They tell us when Hardin was arrested, it wasn't a secret. Several female employees were not comfortable with him still working at the facility after his conviction.

The YMCA of Huntington released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"At the YMCA of Huntington, the safety and well-being of our members, participants and staff is a top priority. We are troubled by the recent arrest of and charges facing one of our employees. Due to the charges against him, his employment has been suspended without pay. We are deeply saddened by the alleged actions, and our thoughts are with the alleged victims.

    The alleged incidents took place away from our facility and in no way involved or put at risk children in our care.

    A full criminal background check and reference check was performed on this staff member at the time of his hire, and he did not have any previous arrests or areas of concern. However, in light of this incident, we are reviewing our hiring, monitoring and training policies to ensure that YMCA of Huntington is utilizing industry-best practices and that we continue to serve Huntington and the Tri-State area with distinction and pride, as we have for more than 134 years.

    The YMCA of Huntington is fully supporting the Huntington Police Department during its investigation and will continue to do so. Because there is an ongoing investigation, all questions about the alleged incidents should be directed to the Huntington Police Department.

    The YMCA of Huntington is a people-focused organization committed to enriching lives and strengthening communities. Our actions are guided by our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. These values call us to treat our employees – and all people – with compassion, fairness and dignity."

Marshall announced Wednesday the school has expelled Hardin. His expulsion took effect Tuesday, June 11. A university spokeswoman says the decision is final.

The university drew backlash following Hardin's first arrest in 2016 for allowing the suspect to remain a student. Hardin has been continuously enrolled as a student since 2016.

In that first case, Judge Alfred Ferguson sentenced Hardin to a year in jail, but suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation. Following these new charges, prosecutors are requesting the judge revoke his probation and reinstate a jail sentence.

Hardin appeared before Judge Gregory Howard Wednesday morning and said he wanted to waive a preliminary probation revocation hearing. The case will now return to Judge Ferguson's courtroom for a final sentencing.

A date for the hearing in Judge Ferguson's courtroom has not been set yet.

UPDATE 6/12/19 @ 9:56 a.m.
Marshall University has expelled a student who is facing sexual assault charges. The student also appeared in court Wednesday morning in connection with his criminal case.

University officials say Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, violated the student conduct policy.

This is the second time Hardin has been charged with sexual assault since being a student at the university. He was arrested for sexual assault in 2016 after a female student said he assaulted her on campus, but he was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor battery charge after entering a Kennedy plea. That type of plea means the defendant accepts punishment, but does not admit guilt.

He currently faces four new counts of sexual assault. According to court records, Hardin is accused of attacking two women on separate occasions off campus in the fall of 2018.

University officials confirmed to WSAZ Wednesday that the women alleging attacks in 2018 are also students. They were enrolled in the fall 2018 semester, the spring 2019 semester, and are registered for the fall 2019 semester.

“We have taken, and will continue to take, aggressive steps to make sure the entire Marshall community is safe," said President Jerome A. Gilbert. "I have zero tolerance for inappropriate, illegal behavior, and pledge that we will always treat sexual misconduct and violence with the utmost gravity. The safety of our students is our first obligation.”

His expulsion took effect Tuesday, June 11. A university spokeswoman says the decision is final.

"Marshall University has expelled Joseph Chase Hardin for disciplinary reasons in accordance with the university’s SA-3 Student Conduct Disciplinary Procedures," a press release from the university states. "The university determined Hardin violated Marshall University Board of Governors Policy GA-1 as it relates to sections 3.3.4 {Sexual Harassment} and 3.4.1 {Sexual Misconduct}."

The university drew backlash following Hardin's first arrest in 2016 for allowing the suspect to remain a student. Hardin has been continuously enrolled as a student since 2016.

He was 19 years old at the time. According to the police report filed at the Marshall University Police Department, a female student accused Hardin of assaulting her in February of 2016. He was originally charged with second-degree sexual assault in that case, but entered a Kennedy plea on Jan. 11, 2017 for a misdemeanor battery charge.

In that first case, Judge Alfred Ferguson sentenced Hardin to a year in jail, but suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation. Following these new charges, prosecutors are requesting the judge revoke his probation and reinstate a jail sentence.

Hardin appeared before Judge Gregory Howard Wednesday morning and said he wanted to waive a preliminary probation revocation hearing. The case will now return to Judge Ferguson's courtroom for a final sentencing.

A date for the hearing in Judge Ferguson's courtroom has not been set yet.

UPDATE 6/11/19 @ 5:50 p.m.
We're learning new details about the Marshall University student who has been arrested again on sexual assault charges.

As we first reported Monday, Joseph Hardin, 22, faces four counts of sexual assault of two women on separate occasions last fall off campus.

This is the same man who was charged with sexual assault in 2016, leading to a backlash from students about how the university handled the case. For more on this part of the story, scroll down to read previous versions of the story.

Now we can tell you, Hardin is an employee of the YMCA in Huntington and he has worked there since before the first incident three years ago.

Leadership at the ‘Y’ refused to do an interview, but many female members are not happy.

"It's very concerning," said one member we’re going to call ‘Anne’ because she didn’t want her real name used.

Hardin was already working at the Huntington YMCA when he was arrested on a sexual assault charge in 2016 as a 19-year-old.

Months later, he took a Kennedy plea on a lesser battery charge, meaning he accepted the punishment but didn't admit guilt.

Employees there said after that, he continued to work at the May building.

"As a female, it's never a comforting feeling whatsoever," Anne said.

"I totally don't understand that,” added “Betty,” a mother of a YMCA member who also didn’t want her face shown. “I don't know how they could employ someone with that kind of a record."

Although some members recognized Hardin, none said they've ever felt uncomfortable here, either from him or anyone else.

YMCA employees tell us when Hardin was arrested in 2016, it wasn't a secret. Several female employees were not comfortable with him still working at the facility after he took the Kennedy plea.

Anne and Betty feel the same way, concerned that ‘Y’ leadership knew about the charge and the plea and continued to employ him.

“It does. It does. I don't understand it," Betty said.

"You would think a place that a lot of students come and families, children, that would be something they should take more seriously and maybe should have been let go," Anne added.

YMCA Executive Director Brian Byrd refused to do an interview Tuesday. He would only say Hardin was placed on administrative leave last week.

But members are concerned someone facing sexual assault charges for the second time was not let go the first time.

"Sexual assault is one of many issues that can't be swept under the rug. If it happens once it's likely to happen again,” Anne said. “Having someone working where there's children ... it's not the type of person you want around your kids."

We tried to talk to Cabell County Prosecutor Corky Hammers about why the initial charge was dropped back in 2016. But because of the pending case he could not comment.

Hardin remains in the Western Regional Jail Tuesday night with no bond set.

We asked for an interview with him there, but the Department of Corrections policy refuses all interview requests and prohibits any cameras or even notebooks inside the jail.

He's due in court Wednesday morning for a hearing to revoke his probation from the 2016 case.



UPDATE 6/11/19 @ 4:05 p.m.
Marshall University on Tuesday released a statement about a student who faces four counts of sexual assault after facing similar charges in 2016.

Here is the university's statement in full:

"Marshall University is diligently pursing 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.

"Marshall continues to take very seriously its commitment to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. The university routinely implements prevention programs, education about the importance of bystander intervention and provides support to any student who has experienced any form of assault, including sexual assault.

"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."

The indictment claims Joseph Hardin, 22, sexually assaulted two female victims. According to the allegations in the court documents, one incident happened on Sept. 1, 2018 and the other happened on Oct. 7, 2018. There are two counts of second-degree sexual assault for each victim.

The Huntington Police Department is investigating both incidents. Police Chief Hank Dial tells WSAZ the alleged crimes did not happen on Marshall's campus.

Hardin was on probation when these alleged assaults happened. One of the conditions of his probation is that he does not commit any other crimes. In the face of new accusations, prosecutors are requesting the judge revoke his probation and reinstate a jail sentence.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.



UPDATE 6/10/19 @ 10 p.m.
WSAZ obtained the grand jury indictment that charges a current Marshall University student with four counts of sexual assault. The student was arrested for the same charges back in 2016, but ended up entering a plea and getting probation.

The indictment claims Joseph Hardin, 22, sexually assaulted two female victims. According to the allegations in the court documents, one incident happened on Sept. 1, 2018 and the other happened on Oct. 7, 2018. There are two counts of second-degree sexual assault for each victim.

The Huntington Police Department is investigating both incidents. Police Chief Hank Dial tells WSAZ the alleged crimes did not happen on Marshall's campus. No other details have been released at this point.

Hardin was on probation when these alleged assaults happened. One of the conditions of his probation is that he does not commit any other crimes. In the face of new accusations, prosecutors are requesting the judge revoke his probation and reinstate a jail sentence.

Court documents claim Hardin also violated his probation by drinking alcohol. The documents state, "Condition number 10 of the defendant's terms and conditions is: 'You will not have, buy, drink, or be with anybody drinking beer, liquor, or wine. You will not be in or around any bars.'" According to the court records, Hardin admitted to drinking a glass of wine on Jan. 20, 2019 "and tested positive for Ethanol."

Hardin received probation after he was arrested in May of 2016. He was 19 years old at the time. According to the police report filed at the Marshall University Police Department, a female student accused Hardin of assaulting her in February of 2016.

He was originally charged with second-degree sexual assault in that case, but was ultimately convicted on a misdemeanor battery charge. Hardin entered a Kennedy plea on Jan. 11, 2017. That type of plea means the defendant accepts punishment, but does not admit guilt.

Judge Alfred Ferguson sentenced Hardin to a year in jail, but suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation.

Following the alleged probation violations, prosecutors want Hardin's one-year jail sentence reinstated with time served. Hardin will have a hearing at 9 a.m. on June 12 in Cabell County Circuit Court.

Marshall University officials confirmed to WSAZ Monday that Hardin is currently enrolled as a student. He completed the spring 2019 semester and is registered for the fall 2019 term.

According to Marshall University Spokeswoman Leah Payne, Hardin "has been continuously enrolled at Marshall University since 2016."

In the months following Hardin's arrest in 2016, many posted to social media with concerns about Hardin being allowed on campus. The posts criticized the university, saying it puts other students in danger and forces the female student to be around her alleged attacker. You can read the university's response in our original story below.



UPDATE 6/10/19 @ 2:26 p.m.
A Marshall University student is in jail after prosecutors say he violated his probation and once again faces sexual assault charges.

Joseph Hardin, 22, will have a hearing at 9 a.m. on June 12 in Cabell County Circuit Court. Prosecutors are requesting the judge revoke his probation and reinstate a jail sentence.

Hardin was arrested in May of 2016 when he was 19 years old. According to the police report filed at the Marshall University Police Department, a female student accused Hardin of assaulting her in February.

He was originally charged with second-degree sexual assault, but was ultimately convicted on a misdemeanor battery charge.

In that first case, Hardin entered a Kennedy plea on Jan. 11, 2017. That type of plea means the defendant accepts punishment, but does not admit guilt. Judge Alfred Ferguson sentenced Hardin to a year in jail, but suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation. The judge also ruled Hardin could not have contact with the victim.

According to new court records, Hardin was arrested again Friday, June 7, 2019 on four counts of second-degree sexual assault. One of the conditions of his probation is that he does not commit any other crimes.

Court documents claim Hardin also violated his probation by drinking alcohol. The documents state, "Condition number 10 of the defendant's terms and conditions is: 'You will not have, buy, drink, or be with anybody drinking beer, liquor, or wine. You will not be in or around any bars.'" According to the court records, Hardin admitted to drinking a glass of wine on Jan. 20, 2019 "and tested positive for Ethanol."

Following these probation violations, prosecutors want Hardin's one-year jail sentence reinstated with time served.

Hardin is currently in the Western Regional Jail. The jail website did not list a bail amount.

Marshall University officials confirmed to WSAZ Monday that Hardin is still enrolled as a student. He completed the spring 2019 semester and is registered for the fall 2019 term.

In the months following Hardin's arrest in 2016, the university carried out its own student conduct case separate from the criminal case.

"Our client has already been absolved of these charges at Marshall and we maintain his innocence," Hardin's attorney told WSAZ at the time.

Many posted to social media with concerns about Hardin being allowed on campus. The posts criticized the university, saying it puts other students in danger and forces the female student to be around her alleged attacker.

There was so much backlash that Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert issued a news release on May 7, 2016 that read in part, "With regard to the case that has been widely discussed on social media over the last couple of days, I want to be absolutely clear that Marshall University does not condone or 'cover up' sexual assault. The safety of our students is one of our primary obligations." You can read the full statement from the university in our original story below.

Molly Hellyer is a Marshall senior.

"I think the system let him slide through a little bit," Hellyer said. "I don't know why, but I'm not too happy about it. This is where we are supposed to learn and our second home basically, and how safe can we feel if someone who is known for being sexually abusive is still walking around campus?"



UPDATE 1/11/17 @ 12 p.m.
A Marshall University student has been placed on probation after he submitted a Kennedy plea.

Joseph Hardin,19, was originally charged with sexual assault, but was sentenced for misdemeanor battery of a female student.

Judge Alfred Ferguson sentenced Hardin to a year in jail, but suspended that and put Hardin on three years probation.

Hardin will have to get an HIV test and be fingerprinted and photographed.

The judge also ruled Hardin can't have contact with the victim.

In the months following Hardin's arrest, many began posting social media with concerns about Hardin allegedly being allowed on campus.

The posts criticized the university, saying it puts other students in danger and forces the female student to be around her alleged attacker.

There was so much backlash that Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert issued a news release in May 2016 that reads in part, "With regard to the case that has been widely discussed on social media over the last couple of days, I want to be absolutely clear that Marshall University does not condone or 'cover up' sexual assault. The safety of our students is one of our primary obligations."



ORIGINAL STORY 5/27/16
A student at Marshall University is facing criminal charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student on campus.

Joseph Hardin, 19, is charged with second-degree sexual assault. He was in court Friday for a pre-trial hearing. Hardin's attorney tells WSAZ the student is maintaining his innocence.

According to the police report filed at the Marshall University Police Department, a female student reported the alleged assault at 4:24 p.m. on Feb. 1.

In the months following Hardin's arrest, many began posting social media with concerns about Hardin allegedly being allowed on campus. The posts criticized the university, saying it puts other students in danger and forces the female student to be around her alleged attacker.

There was so much backlash that Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert issued a news release on May 7 that reads in part, "With regard to the case that has been widely discussed on social media over the last couple of days, I want to be absolutely clear that Marshall University does not condone or 'cover up' sexual assault. The safety of our students is one of our primary obligations."

A student conduct case is separate from Hardin's criminal case.

The president's release goes on to say, "Both parties in a student conduct case have the right to appeal a decision and that process also is clearly defined in the code."

University officials could not comment on whether or not Hardin filed appeals, what the outcome of the case was, or even confirm if the case had been settled.

However, officials confirmed that Hardin is an actively enrolled student, adding that if a student is suspended or filing appeals in a student conduct case, they would still have the status of actively enrolled.

After his hearing Friday, Hardin's attorney gave WSAZ this statement: "Our client has already been absolved of these charges at Marshall and we maintain his innocence."

A trial date for Hardin's criminal case was set for September.

Below is the full statement from the university from the press release sent out May 7:

"In light of recent social media posts regarding a student conduct issue here at Marshall University President Jerome A. Gilbert today issued the following statement:

Due to federal student privacy laws, we are limited about what we can say regarding the circumstances of any specific student conduct case; however, with regard to the case that has been widely discussed on social media over the last couple of days, I want to be absolutely clear that Marshall University does not condone or "cover up" sexual assault. The safety of our students is one of our primary obligations.

The university has a Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities and the specific process outlined in that code for student disciplinary issues is being followed in this case, as it is in any student conduct case. Both parties in a student conduct case have the right to appeal a decision and that process also is clearly defined in the code.

Campus conduct proceedings are not substitutes for criminal prosecution, and Title IX federal law does not allow us to wait until a criminal case is decided to hold a student conduct hearing.

As for reports the university has failed to treat this and past incidents with adequate transparency or seriousness, I want to affirm my commitment that my administration and this university will treat sexual misconduct and violence with the utmost gravity, while respecting the rights of all parties.

We send timely warning notices to the university community any time an assault is reported and provide every possible resource to any student who brings forward allegations. No student will be discouraged from reporting offenses or from the right to due process.

To make certain we are doing everything we can to ensure that our procedures for handling cases are fair and sensitive, and that our decisions protect the welfare of our entire community, I am ordering a review be conducted this summer of all university practices and procedures intended to keep our campus community safe—including those in the student code of conduct.

Anyone who has specific information that the integrity of a student conduct process has been compromised should contact my office or the Office of Student Affairs directly.

We have taken, and will continue to take, aggressive steps to make the entire Marshall family feel secure and welcome.

Resources are available on and off campus to provide assistance to anyone who believes they have been a victim of a sexual offense.

To report a sexual assault, contact the police immediately. Campus police can be contacted at (304) 696-4357. Huntington police can be contacted at 911 or directly at (304) 696-4470.

Victims of any form of sexual assault are encouraged to seek support and can obtain information from the Marshall University Women's Center at (304) 696-3338 or through CONTACT Rape Crisis Center at (304) 399-1111.

For information about sexual assault services available to the university community, visit www.marshall.edu/wcenter."


Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, is accused of sexually assaulting two different female students off-campus in September and October of 2018. This is the second time he has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a Marshall University student.
Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, stood before a Cabell County judge July 2 to schedule his probation revocation hearing.
Joseph Chase Hardin was back in court Tuesday morning for a final probation revocation hearing in connection to a 2016 sexual assault case. The hearing ended up being continued until July 26.