Sexual assault trial underway in case against former Marshall University student

This will be the first jury trial at the Cabell County Courthouse since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 1:05 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 10:04 PM EDT
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UPDATE 6:00 p.m. @ 8/11/2020

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Day one of the trial for a former Marshall University student, accused of sexually assaulting two different women on separate occasions in 2018, has wrapped up.

Tuesday started the trial for Chase Hardin. This is the first jury trial in Cabell County since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

It took about three hours for the jury to be selected and seated for the trial. After a quick break, the trial got underway with opening arguments.

Kellie Neal, with the prosecution, using opening arguments to talk about how the lives of the two alleged victims “became deeply affected by the actions of one man.”

The alleged incidents happened in September and October of 2018. Prosecutors say the relationships started off consensual in both cases, but “things changed rapidly.”

The prosecution addressed the fact that both of the alleged victims didn’t come forward to report immediately, saying they plan to call a witness who will testify “this is not unusual” behavior for victims of sexual assault.

The alleged victims, along with Hardin, were all students at Marshall University at the time the assaults allegedly occurred.

However, Hardin was expelled from the university last year when the new allegations came to light.

Abraham Saad of the defense, using the phrase “word choices, context and perspective,” throughout opening arguments said text messages and social media paint a different picture in the case than what the prosecution is presenting. Saad said there’s no physical evidence to support the victims’ claims.

Before the trial wrapped up for the day, the prosecution called one of the alleged victims to the stand. She testified for about an hour before court adjourned Tuesday.

The victim testified she saw Hardin at a campus ministry and then met him when he came to her church.

She says they started texted after that, having random conversations almost daily. She testified that she considered him to be a “good friend” and, that at times, their conversations became flirtatious in nature.

A majority of the testimony was focused around text messages between the alleged victim and Hardin.

She is expected to take the stand again when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

UPDATE 1:00 p.m. 8/11/2020

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The jury has been selected for the trial against former Marshall University student Joseph Chase Hardin.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Jury selection began Tuesday in the case against a former Marshall University student accused of sexual assault.

Joseph Chase Hardin is charged with sexually assaulting two women in 2018.

The Marshall University student was expelled last year after those charges were filed. The university said it followed state and federal regulations, including issuing a no-contact order.

Hardin has been out on bond since December.

Hardin has completed a jail sentence for battery. Those charges stemmed from a separate case. Hardin was serving a three year probation but the judge in that case reinstated a jail sentence once new allegations against Hardin came to light.

Officials tell the hope is to get the jury seated by Tuesday afternoon.

This will be the first jury trial at the Cabell County Courthouse since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

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