Expelled Marshall student remains behind bars

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A man who was allowed to remain enrolled at Marshall University despite being accused of raping a student will stay jailed after being expelled amid new sexual assault charges involving two additional women.

A West Virginia circuit court judge on Tuesday ordered that Joseph Chase Hardin remain in custody following his arraignment on the more recent charges.

All three women Hardin is accused of raping were watching from the courtroom gallery as he was led in wearing an orange jumpsuit, his hands and feet shackled. A father of one of the women became visibly angry, gritting his teeth and breathing heavily, as Hardin stood before him. Judge Alfred E. Ferguson then read a graphic description of the assaults.

His attorney, Kerry A. Nessel, told the judge that Hardin is innocent of all charges and asked for his release.

“He’s languishing in jail for something he did not do,” Nessel said. The judge immediately batted down the request.

Hardin, 22, was indicted and jailed earlier this month on second-degree sexual assault charges for two alleged rapes in 2018. A different judge previously ruled that he stay behind bars for violating probation in the earlier case, in which he was accused of raping former Marshall student Alicia Gonzales in her dorm room in February 2016 but was convicted on a lesser charge of battery.

Gonzales, who drove in from Pennsylvania for the court hearing, said she locked eyes with Hardin as he entered the room.

“I just wanted to see him in ‘cuffs and in an orange jumpsuit,” she said. “That’s exactly what I wanted to see, I felt like that would bring me comfort.”

She has filed a federal lawsuit that accuses Marshall of botching Hardin’s disciplinary process and allowing him to stay on campus and taunt her, which led to her leaving the college months after the alleged rape.

Marshall University expelled Hardin about two weeks ago after his new sexual assault charges drew media scrutiny on the case and the school’s handling of the situation. A spokeswoman for the college has said it followed state law and federal regulations in handling Gonzales’ case, adding that it “took every legal measure available to it to protect the rights of all parties throughout the process,” including issuing a no-contact order.