ROGERS, Ark. (AP) — 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 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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
Information from: KHOG-TV, http://www.4029tv.com