UPDATE: Former student says she feels betrayed by college after rape

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - UPDATE: 06/15/19

A former Marshall University student says she was forced to leave her dream college in West Virginia because the school allowed the man who she says raped her to remain on campus.

Alicia Gonzales told The Associated Press on Friday that she felt betrayed by the college's handling of the 2016 case.

Her comments come days after the school expelled 22-year-old Joseph Chase Hardin amid new sexual assault charges involving two additional women.

Hardin ultimately entered a Kennedy plea to a lesser charge of battery in the 2016 case, allowing him to be convicted without admitting guilt.

Hardin's attorney says he denies everything.

The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Gonzales has granted.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

UPDATE: 06/12/19

Marshall University has expelled a student who is facing sexual assault charges. The student also appeared in court Wednesday morning in connection with his criminal case.

University officials say Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, violated the student conduct policy.

This is the second time Hardin has been charged with sexual assault since being a student at the university. He was arrested for sexual assault in 2016 after a female student said he assaulted her on campus, but he was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor battery charge after entering a Kennedy plea. That type of plea means the defendant accepts punishment, but does not admit guilt.

He currently faces four new counts of sexual assault. According to court records, Hardin is accused of attacking two women on separate occasions off campus in the fall of 2018.

University officials confirmed to WSAZ Wednesday that the women alleging attacks in 2018 are also students. They were enrolled in the fall 2018 semester, the spring 2019 semester, and are registered for the fall 2019 semester.

“We have taken, and will continue to take, aggressive steps to make sure the entire Marshall community is safe," said President Jerome A. Gilbert. "I have zero tolerance for inappropriate, illegal behavior, and pledge that we will always treat sexual misconduct and violence with the utmost gravity. The safety of our students is our first obligation.”

His expulsion took effect Tuesday, June 11. A university spokeswoman says the decision is final.

"Marshall University has expelled Joseph Chase Hardin for disciplinary reasons in accordance with the university’s SA-3 Student Conduct Disciplinary Procedures," a press release from the university states. "The university determined Hardin violated Marshall University Board of Governors Policy GA-1 as it relates to sections 3.3.4 {Sexual Harassment} and 3.4.1 {Sexual Misconduct}."

The university drew backlash following Hardin's first arrest in 2016 for allowing the suspect to remain a student. Hardin has been continuously enrolled as a student since 2016.

He was 19 years old at the time. According to the police report filed at the Marshall University Police Department, a female student accused Hardin of assaulting her in February of 2016. He was originally charged with second-degree sexual assault in that case, but entered a Kennedy plea on Jan. 11, 2017 for a misdemeanor battery charge.

In that first case, Judge Alfred Ferguson sentenced Hardin to a year in jail, but suspended that sentence and gave him three years of probation. Following these new charges, prosecutors are requesting the judge revoke his probation and reinstate a jail sentence.

Hardin appeared before Judge Gregory Howard Wednesday morning and said he wanted to waive a preliminary probation revocation hearing. The case will now return to Judge Ferguson's courtroom for a final sentencing.

A date for the hearing in Judge Ferguson's courtroom has not been set yet. Hardin was arrested Friday.


A student who remains enrolled at West Virginia's Marshall University despite a conviction for a 2016 attack against a female student is facing charges of assaulting two more women.

Court records filed Thursday show 22-year-old Joseph Chase Hardin was indicted on second-degree sexual assault charges involving two women in 2018. Hardin was jailed Friday, accused of violating probation for the previous case in which a student says she was raped in her dorm room in February 2016.

Hardin ultimately entered a Kennedy plea to a lesser charge of battery in the 2016 case, allowing him to be convicted without admitting guilt. His lawyer in the probation matter, Kerry A. Nessel, declined comment Tuesday.

University spokeswoman Leah Payne says Hardin remains enrolled. She declined comment on a lawsuit the female student filed against Marshall.

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