Hardin’s trial began Monday in Walker County Superior Court. He was on trial for 24 counts, including 17 counts of child molestation, three counts of rape, and one count each of statutory rape, incest, aggravated sexual battery, and attempt to commit a felony.
On Friday he was ordered to serve four consecutive life sentences, plus 80 years, followed by 20 years on probation. He was found guilty on 16 counts of child molestation, three counts of rape, one count of aggravated sexual battery and one count of statutory rape. The life sentences were for the three rape charges and the aggravated battery charge.
Hardin was arrested in early October 2008 after Chickamauga police received a complaint that a child was being sexually abused. Hardin, 54 at the time, lived in Chestnut Hill trailer park, having moved there from Tennessee.
A number of others were arrested in the investigation, including Shawn Daniel Meintz, 31, of East 48th Street in Chattanooga, and Kevin Lee Hicks, 22, of Lee Avenue in Chickamauga.
Both men were on trial with Hardin and were also sentenced today.
Meintz received 20 years in prison, with 40 years probation to follow. Meintz was on trial for one count each of rape, aggravated child molestation and statutory rape, and four counts of child molestation.
Hicks received five years in prison, with 40 years of probation to follow. Hicks was on trial for one count of statutory rape and four counts of child molestation.
The key witness for the prosecution was a girl who is now 15 years old and who testified she was sexally abused by the men.
Assistant district attorney and state prosecutor Chris Arnt said of the conviction, “Hopefully this will help the victim be able to deal with the pain of this …. and attain her goals in continuing her education and moving on with her life.”
Chickamauga police chief Michael Haney said of the conviction, “This has been a year-and-a-half case under in-vestigation. All of our officers worked hard on this case. We are happy with the outcome and the case is still under investigation.”