Trish Bennett, Editor
ASHVILLE – An Ashville man is facing charges of rape and sexual battery after being indicted May 6 by the Pickaway County Grand Jury.
James L. Hardbarger, 37, pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment May 18 and is set for a pretrial hearing June 17 in Pickaway County Common Pleas Court.
Hardbarger is accused of engaging in forced sexual conduct with a 13-year-old female, according to Detective Jeff George, Ashville Police Department.
The alleged incident was reported April 11 by the girl’s mother, he said.
Rape is a first-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 11 years in state prison and a $20,000 fine. Sexual battery is a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of five years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.
George said if Hardbarger is convicted, he would likely face a mandatory jail sentence and would be required to register as a sex offender.
As this case proceeds through the court system, George said it is important for all parents to pay attention to their children and be aware of changes in behavior or mood that may signify something unusual going on.
“If you suspect any kind of sexual conduct with your child, report it and have it investigated,” George said.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal