HUNTINGTON — A Huntington man accused of sexually assaulting two young women will remain in jail as he fights the charges in court after Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Alfred Ferguson on Friday revoked his probation, a sentence he was serving for battery of another woman.
Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, of Huntington, will serve one year in jail after Ferguson ruled he violated the terms of his probation after being indicted on four counts of second-degree sexual assault, plus admitting he drank alcohol. He will get credit for the 49 days he has already served. The ruling came after two days of testimony, including from Hardin.
Hardin was sentenced to three years probation after entering a Kennedy plea to misdemeanor battery. He was accused of sexually assaulting Alicia Gonzales in a Marshall University residence hall in 2016.
Gonzales, who attended Friday’s hearing, said that, for the first time in a long time, she was feeling an overwhelmingly positive emotion.
“There has been so much injustice,” Gonzales said, “but I finally feel like I got the justice I deserve.”
Hardin was indicted in June on the new sexual assault charges, which allege that he attacked two women in fall 2018. Hardin and his alleged victims were students at Marshall at the time, but the alleged incidents did not occur on campus. Hardin was expelled by Marshall after the most recent indictment.
In explaining his decision, Ferguson said he had wanted to see how all the witnesses answered questions, which is why he allowed one of Hardin’s alleged victims to testify earlier this month.
“When the defendant testified today, it is obvious he is quite intelligent and poised, but he can also be a manipulator,” Ferguson said.
The judge said he could think of reasons the alleged victims would wait so long to come forward after the alleged incidents — guilt, shame and fear — but he struggled to come up with any logical reasons why they would make up the allegations and then submit themselves to trial.
“When someone says no, that’s what it means,” Ferguson said. “Everything up to that point in time was consensual, but when a woman or a man, or even a kid, says no, that’s the end of it.”
While on the stand, Hardin denied even knowing that the two women were upset after the alleged incidents took place. He said the allegations only arose after he got back together with his ex-girlfriend.
“I know it made people mad that I kept going back to her,” Hardin said. “The night of the 11th, I posted a photo on Instagram. It was ‘Good times with an even better girl,’ and it was three photos with me and [his girlfriend]. At that point, there hadn’t been any problems and, the next day, [one of the victims] calls 911.”
In his closing statements, Hardin attorney Kerry Nessel asked the judge to consider allowing Hardin out of jail on home confinement to serve his sentence.
Hardin will return to court on Tuesday for a pretrial hearing on the most recent charges.
In a related matter, a lawsuit Gonzales had filed against Marshall alleging that it mishandled her Title IX case, forcing her to leave the university, was dismissed. According to documents filed Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers granted Marshall’s motion for summary judgment. A trial date had been set for next week.