Fremont man charged with rape, kidnapping

A former police chief serving a 30-year prison term for murder was charged Monday with raping a school teacher 20 years ago.

Rogers officials said DNA collected after the 1997 assault at an elementary school was from Grant Hardin, 59 and the former chief of the Gateway Police Department in northwestern Arkansas. Hardin pleaded guilty in last year’s shooting death of Gateway water department employee James Appleton and was sentenced in October.

The Rogers Police Department said it learned former Gateway Police Chief Grant Hardin raped a teacher in November 1997, thanks to recently matched DNA evidence. 

The teacher said she was assaulted at school on a Sunday morning after going there to prepare lesson plans. A church service was being held in the school cafeteria. Television station KHBS-KHOG reported Monday that police matched Hardin to the rape after his DNA was taken during last year’s investigation.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A former Arkansas police chief already serving a murder sentence is now accused of a 1997 rape, authorities say. 

Hardin was a police officer in Eureka Springs in 1997. He was assigned to the state prison at Calico Rock on the murder charge but taken back to Rogers for a court appearance later Monday, Rogers Police Chief Hayes Minor said at a news conference.

Hardin is already in prison after killing James Appleton, 59, by shooting him in the head, authorities said. 

It wasn’t clear Monday afternoon if Hardin had a lawyer. Hardin’s attorney in the murder case said Monday he worked at the prosecutor’s office during the rape investigation and that it was unlikely he would represent Hardin again.

DNA links former Gateway Police Chief to 20-year-old rape case

Minor said the assault occurred Nov. 9, 1997, in a bathroom at Frank Tillery Elementary School. Police preserved DNA evidence and modern technology matched Hardin to the crime, Minor said.

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At times, Minor choked up and wiped away tears while talking about the investigation.

“I’m thankful … for our victim, who many of us knew at the time,” he said. “I’m glad that we did this, for her first and foremost.”

In a yearlong investigation of sexual misconduct by U.S. law enforcement, The Associated Press uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.

On Nov. 9, 1997, a teacher was raped at Frank Tillery Elementary School. The teacher was at the school on a Sunday preparing a classroom when she left to use the restroom, according to police. More than 250 people were at the school attending a church service in the cafeteria at the time of the attack, according to police.

FREMONT – A local man faces multiple felony charges, including rape and kidnapping, after being arrested following a 10-month investigation.

The police report states that when the victim left the bathroom, a man was standing in front of the door pointing a gun at her. The suspect then raped then the victim in the bathroom, then moved her to a classroom and raped her again, according to police.

Dearlo Hardin, 37, of Fremont, was arrested and charged Saturday with 12 counts, including two felony rape charges, two counts of burglary, two counts of violating a protection order, kidnapping, aggravated burglary, theft, and felonious assault.

Hardin also is charged with one misdemeanor count each of criminal damaging and failure to appear.

The Arkansas Department of Correction submitted a sample of Hardin's DNA in relation to his murder charge, which was submitted to the state crime lab. The database showed that his DNA matches the DNA samples taken from the clothes.

Two other Fremont residents, Herman Miller, 39, and Julie Pinell, 35, were arrested in the case after Fremont Police opened an investigation into rape allegations against Hardin on April 9, 2017.

Hardin was also a police officer with the Eureka Springs Police Department. He was fired in 1997 by former Eureka Springs Police Chief Earl Hyatt.

Evidence was collected at the scene and a rape kit of the victim was taken.

Police served a warrant on former Gateway Police Chief Grant Hardin, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in October 2017 in a separate case.

The woman reported being held against her will and raped at an apartment at Casa Nueva, on Dickinson Street, according to a Fremont Police report.

Hardin was being held Monday at the Benton County Jail on a $250,000 bond. His arraignment is set for March 19 in Benton County Circuit Court.

The report said the woman told police that Hardin asked her to come to the apartment where the attack took place.

The woman said she and Hardin agreed to smoke crack cocaine and they each took a hit.

When Hardin went to smoke from the pipe, it was empty, and he accused the woman of stealing his pipe.

In White County, Kelana Norman, 39, of Des Arc died at 7:04 a.m. Sunday when the 1998 Ford she was driving northbound on Arkansas 11 veered through the southbound lane and stuck a tree, according to a state police report, which said conditions were clear and dry at the time of the crash.

According to the report, the woman told police Hardin made her strip, and checked her private parts for the missing pipe.

The woman said Hardin then pushed her face down into the bed, allegedly choked her from behind, and threatened to use a stun gun on her if she did not return the pipe.

Sgt. Shannon Jenkins said the Benton County sheriff’s office worked seven during the same time frame. City police officers reported 18 crashes in Springdale, eight in Rogers and 23 in Fayetteville.

Hardin then told the woman she would pay for the pipe one way or another, and said they could have sex, the report said.

Believing she would be released if she did, the woman said she had sex with Hardin, but that when she was leaving she was stopped by Pinell, who also is charged with two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping.

Pinell told the woman she was not going anywhere, according to the report, and called Miller upstairs. Miller also was charged with two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping.

The woman was told she could not leave until she gave Hardin the pipe back, the report alleges.

When the woman attempted to run, she was punched in the chest and told to lie back down and was not allowed to leave until she produced the pipe, according to the report.

The woman was forced to have sex with Hardin again, and said he used the stun gun on her for about seven seconds, the report said.

The woman left the following day after falling asleep at the apartment, and was allowed to go because Hardin said he “didn’t care about the pipe anymore,” according to the report.

Pinell was arrested by Fremont police on Nov. 22 and charged withtwo counts of rape and one count of kidnapping, and has since been released on her own recognizance, according to Sandusky County Common Pleas Court records. 

Miller was arrested on warrants by the Sandusky County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 8 and remains in the Sandusky County Jail.

The victim said there was a video on Hardin’s phone saying he and Miller set her up to “do what they did.”

Hardin previously was found guilty of aggravated assault In January 2010 and sentenced to five years of community control, or probation. In November 2010, he was charged with violation of community control after being arrested by the sheriff’s office, and was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Hardin has had multiple stalking and domestic violence protection orders filed against him, with the latest coming in December 2016.

In 2007, Hardin pleaded guilty to possession of crack cocaine and was sentenced to six months in prison.

Hardin pleaded guilty in 2005 to forgery charges and was sentenced to six months in prison.

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