News and Tribune

March 26, 2013

Sexual assault claims put two in jail

New Albany teen accuses men in unrelated abuse

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Two men are in jail following accusations of sexual abuse made by a New Albany teenage girl.

Both men were arrested Monday, and each appeared in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1 on Tuesday.

William M. Hardison, 44, of Bono Road in New Albany, was charged with two counts of B felony child molesting. Aaron R. Knight, 18, of New Philadelphia Road in Salem, was charged with one count of B felony child molesting.

The men are not believed to know one another, New Albany Police Department Maj. Keith Whitlow said.

The girl was 13 years old when the alleged abuse was first reported to police Feb. 17 after officers responded to the child’s home in Carriage House Apartments off Grant Line Road for a child molesting report. At the time, the child told police that Hardison, who she described as a friend of her mother’s, had forced her to perform oral sex on him on nearly 20 occasions since she was 6 years old. She also said all the abuse took place in Hardison’s apartment. Hardison’s two charges, however, are specific to alleged sexual abuse occurring on Feb. 4 and Feb. 15.

While police were at her home, the girl also said she was sexually abused in July 2012 by Knight.

Police could not confirm Hardison or Knight’s relationships to the victim or her family, but Whitlow said the men were “obviously acquainted with the family.”

According to the probable-cause affidavit, the child told police she and Knight had intercourse when she was 12 years old, and that she believed Knight, who she knew only as “Aaron,” was 19 years old at the time.

A forensic interview was conducted Feb. 22, and the child again told authorities of the sexual abuse involving Hardison and Knight. During the interview, the child said that she and Knight, along with some friends, were playing a game of  truth or dare and an unidentified person dared her to have intercourse with Knight in a bathroom.

According to her statements, the child and Knight then went to the bathroom, where he told her to remove her pants and the two began to have sex, until she told him to stop and he complied.

Investigators interviewed Hardison and Knight on Feb. 27, according to court records. Hardison denied the allegations, and Knight told officers that he and the child did have intercourse during a game of truth or dare.

“Knight agreed they had a little bit of sex, but it was not long and drawn out,” according to the affidavit. He told police that he believed the incident to have occurred about July 2012.

Hardison was administered a polygraph March 5 by Indiana State Police.

“[The trooper] advised that Hardison was deceptive and had failed the test,” according to the affidavit.

Nearly a week later, on March 13, a NAPD investigator again interviewed the child. The girl said that the most recent sexual incident involving Hardison occurred Feb. 15 and involved him asking her to touch him in his private area.

“[The girl] stated she initially said no, but Hardison continued to ask her and plead with her, so she just wanted Hardison to shut up, so she did it,” according to the affidavit.

She continued to tell the investigator that a similar incident also occurred Feb. 4 in Hardison’s bedroom.

 

Initial Hearings

Hardison and Knight each appeared separately before Superior Court No. 1 Judge Susan Orth on Tuesday afternoon. Both men wore street clothes and were escorted into the courtroom with their waists wrapped in metal chains connected to handcuffs around their wrists.

Both men entered not guilty pleas.

Hardison is being held under a $150,000 court-cash bond, and Knight is facing a $100,000 court-cash bond.

Knight is scheduled to return to court May 2 for a pretrial conference. Hardison was slated to appear for an April 25 hearing.