GREENFIELD — A local veterinarian pleaded guilty this week to a misdemeanor count of battery Thursday in exchange for prosecutors dropping the felony sexual assault charge he had faced.
Dr. John Hardin, a vet at the Greenfield Veterinary Clinic, was arrested in November amid allegations from several female employees and volunteers who told police Hardin took them into private areas at his Greenfield animal clinic under the guise of teaching them new skills and then touched them inappropriately, according to court documents.
Hardin, 71, pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor Thursday in Hancock Circuit Court and was sentenced to spend a year on probation. The local doctor had originally been charged with one count of sexual battery as a Level 6 felony and one count of battery as a Class B misdemeanor. Those charges were dismissed as part of the agreement.
Three women who worked for Hardin came forward last year, each telling police their boss had forced himself on them during incidents dating back a decade.
The women told police Hardin had forced them to kiss him despite their resisting his advances, according to court documents. Each woman also accused Hardin of groping them, according to court documents.
One woman, who had worked for the Greenfield Veterinary Clinic for only a few months, told police Hardin was “very touchy with everyone,” court documents state. She said Hardin often tried to kiss or hug her or press himself up against her while they were working with patients, documents state.
Eventually Hardin’s actions escalated to repeatedly grabbing the woman by the hair and twisting her head so he could kiss her, court documents state. The woman told police this happened at least four times, and each time, she tried unsuccessfully to push Hardin off of her, court records state.
Another woman called Hardin “handsy;” a third said Hardin became irate after she brought her boyfriend with her to a company Christmas party and made comments about wanting to get her pregnant, court record state.
Though Hardin will not serve his time on sex-offender probation, he will have to take classes and complete programs sex offenders are traditionally required to complete, officials said.
Hardin also has been barred from hiring any new female employees at the Greenfield Veterinary Clinic, though the women currently working for him will keep their jobs, prosecutors said.
Hardin did not speak during his sentencing hearing Thursday.
He posted a $2,000 cash bond and was released within an hour of his arrest in November and has continued working at the clinic since.
The sexual battery charge Hardin faced is a Level 6 felony carrying a penalty of six month to 2½ years in jail; the battery charge he faced is a Class B misdemeanor, carrying a possible 180 day sentence. The one-year sentence Hardin agreed to serve for the Class A misdemeanor is the maximum sentence for the crime.