HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – The jury has reached a decision in the week-long double sexual assault trial of Chase Hardin.
The court has accepted the jury’s unanimous verdict for the following charges:
- Count 1: not guilty of second-degree sexual assault
- Count 2: not guilty of second-degree sexual assault
- Count 3: guilty of second-degree sexual assault
- Count 4: guilty of second-degree sexual assault
The charges in Counts 1 and 2 relate to Victim 2; Counts 3 and 4 relate to Victim 1. The victims in the case have both agreed to release their names following the trial. Victim 1 has identified herself as Ripley Haney and Victim 2 has identified herself as Frankie Crabtree.
Both sides made their final arguments in court today, and the jury deliberated for six hours beginning at 11 a.m. In the end, it came down to the issue of consent and social media.
The contentious sexual assault trial has not had any medical evidence but centered on what was said between Hardin and his alleged victims on social media.
Joseph Chase Hardin stood accused of four counts of second-degree sexual assault from incidents alleged to have happened in the fall of 2018.
Hardin, who was an upper-classman at Marshall University, was accused by two separate victims, both freshman at Marshall at the time. One he met in church, the other in a bar.
Both cases, involved extensive interaction between Hardin and his victims by text and Snapchat. The texts were presented to jurors but the Snapchat conversations are gone.
While on the stand Hardin contradicted the alleged victims and, at times, his own statements to investigators.
“Ask yourselves this: why would they make it up? Why would they make it up? We’ve gone through the fact that they have to go through a long drawn out system. For what?” Prosecuting Attorney Kellie Neal said.
“Two sides to each story. He said, she said. Reasonable doubt,” his defense attorney Kerry Nessle said.
The case has ultimately boiled down to Hardin’s word against his accuser’s in a “he-said-she-said situation” that was up to the jury to figure it out.