CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — There’s a new development in the conviction of Chase Hardin, who was sentenced to 20 to 50 years in prison on two counts of second-degree sexual assault back in August of 2020.

His lawyers appealed, and this week the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals reached a decision. A sexual assault survivor who testified against him in court tells WOWK 13 News how she reacted when she learned of the new development.

“I was at work yesterday, and I got a call from the courthouse that I just answered, I didn’t think anything about it, and it was my advocate and the prosecutors and they just said, ‘Hey, good news, the appeal got denied. {laughs} and I was like, Oh!” says Ripley Haney, a sexual assault survivor who testified against Hardin.

Haney says she met Hardin in church. They struck up a friendship, and then one day went for a drive together. She later told police they were parked in Huntington when Hardin sexually assaulted her.

“It shows me that I know I was telling the truth all along but they were just grasping at straws to try and appeal his conviction,” Haney says of the failed appeal.

One issue that came up at trial was Haney’s faith. She told the jury because of her religion, she was saving herself for marriage.

Abraham Saad, a lawyer for Hardin, says according to legal code, that testimony was inappropriate.

“Rule 610 prohibits any type of introduction of religion or religious convictions to bolster somebody’s testimony,” Saad says.

“The fact that talking about my faith in God would be something that would make him not be found guilty just shows that I was doing something right,” Haney says.

Saad says the prosecution also included evidence from a recording between Hardin and Detective Matthew Null that Saad says was taken without Hardin’s knowledge, which the prosecution presented in closing arguments despite, Saad says, being inadmissible. In turn, they additionally appealed for prosecutorial misconduct.

“The Supreme Court said that nothing was done wrong, the prosecutor acted properly in getting two felony convictions and it’s just another layer of finality for the state and for the family,” says Sean Hammers, Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney.

Haney says the upheld conviction brought her a sense of relief she didn’t know she needed.

“Knowing that the appeal was just kind of hanging in the balance just like right there and not knowing when it was going to happen was just stressful,” Haney says.

Saad says Hardin can still submit a Writ of Habeas Corpus, which would be a petition directly to the circuit judge challenging the conviction.