Saturday, December 19, 2009

More Woman Come Forward Against Deputy Donald Harder III Accused of Forced Sexual Contact

More women have come forward to accuse a Saratoga County sheriff's deputy of forced sexual contact while he was on the job and in uniform.

Donald A. Harder III, 29, of Hadley was indicted Thursday in Saratoga County Court on 11 additional charges of criminal sexual act, sexual abuse, forcible touching and official misconduct, District Attorney James A. Murphy III said.

Murphy said three women came forward with complaints against Harder after hearing of his Aug. 13 arrest, when a 27-year-old acquaintance told police the police officer forced her to commit a sexual act on him. Harder had responded to a call to assist with a civil matter on Shields Road in Edinburg and the alleged sexual incident occurred on a roadside.

Harder, who has worked for the department for three years, allegedly forced sexual contact with all four women while he was on duty.

In the new allegations, one woman reported that Harder forcefully touched her in a sexual way on June 2 and 3 at the sheriff's substation in Corinth while the deputy was investigating a crime.

A second woman has alleged unwanted sexual contact from Harder in the summer of 2007 and in June and July of this year. The June incident allegedly occurred in a store in Greenfield, officials said. That woman first had contact with Harder as a crime victim and then later as a suspect in a case Harder investigated.

The third woman accused Harder of sexual contact that allegedly happened several years ago, for which the statute of limitations had run out, Murphy said. Harder faces a charge of official misconduct for that incident.

"These allegations were as shocking to me as they were to the sheriff," Murphy said in a news release announcing the indictment. "He and I were both very concerned about this alleged conduct and that is why, after a full investigation, the grand jury heard the case. These women were terrified and frightened."

The grand jury had been hearing the case over the last several weeks from the alleged victims and from other law enforcement personnel.

''This guy went over the line,'' said Sheriff James Bowen, who plans to attend Harder's arraignment Tuesday in Saratoga County Court. ''This guy let everybody down. We investigated it thoroughly. We turned it over to the D.A.''

Murphy said the deputy has been suspended without pay until the conclusion of his criminal case. He is married with three children.

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Officer Sheva Howard Arrested for Stealing Purse

36-year-old Sheva Howard of the Little Rock Police Department was served a bench warrant this month for allegedly stealing a purse.

Reports indicate that in August 2009, Howard was caught stealing a high-priced purse from Dillard's department store.

Lt. Terry Hastings told Today's THV that Howard has been terminated, although he noted she does have rights to appeal. As of right now, however, Howard is no longer with the Little Rock Police Department.

"Anytime one of our officers is involved in any type of incident like this we do a complete internal investigation as well as a criminal investigation," says Hastings.

If Howard is convicted of the crime she could face up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500.00 fine.

Former Officer Alan Vigiard Accused of Looking at Child Porn at Work

A veteran Adams police officer accused of looking at child pornography on a police station computer is due back in court.

Alan Vigiard is scheduled to appear Monday in Northern Berkshire District Court for a pretrial conference on charges of child pornography possession.

According to state police, time stamps reporting access to the pornographic files matched the times Vigiard had been logged into the system. He was just one of four officers with access to the department’s evidence room.

The 45-year-old officer resigned from the department last month, shortly after his arrest. He has pleaded not guilty.

It could not immediately be determined if Vigiard has a lawyer. Vigiard’s home number is unlisted.