Published April 24. 2020 02:45PM
A 30-year-old Bowmanstown man who traveled to Lancaster in January to meet who he thought was a 15-year-old girl for sex was confronted there by three men and charged with seven counts.
Richard Thomas Hardy Jr., 314 Apple St., is charged with statutory sexual assault; criminal solicitation – involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; criminal use of a communications facility; criminal attempt – corruption of minors; criminal attempt – obscene and other sexual materials and performance; criminal solicitation – sexual abuse of children; and criminal attempt – indecent assault.
The charges are the result of investigations conducted by trooper Kory Wardrop of Troop J, Lancaster, and trooper Daniel Magarelli of the Lehighton barracks, Pennsylvania State Police.
Both officers, who are assigned to the criminal investigation units of their respective troops, filed affidavits of probable cause indicating Hardy became involved in the incident through an online dating application, believing he was communicating with a 15-year-old girl.
Wardrop said Hardy went to the Lehighton barracks and spoke with trooper Zachary Andress about “an issue” with a video that was posted on Facebook.
Hardy told the officer he had been “chatting” with “a female” who said she 15 years old. The conversation led to him traveling about 90 minutes to Rutter’s gas station and convenience store, 370 W. Main St., East Lampeter Township (Leola), to meet “her.”
She told Hardy to bring with him “cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and chocolate.”
Hardy told police when he arrived there, he was approached by three men who began to confront him about coming to meet a 15-year-old girl for sex.
The case was turned over to Magarelli, who said on Jan. 17, state police at Lehighton received a child welfare report from the Office of Carbon County Children and Youth Services indicating someone reported a video that says Hardy thought he was going to “have sex, smoke weed and drink alcoholic beverage with a 15-year-old female.”
Police located the video that was posted on Facebook Live, in which the male who portrayed himself to be the female, indicated he was “live” on location at Rutter’s.
The video relates “there is a 30-year-old male, father of two, first responder” who believes he is meeting the girl for sex,” the affidavit says.
The affidavit says the synopsis of the video explains the conversation between Hardy and the man, identified only as “Perry.” During the conversation, the man related he was aware of all of the communications between Hardy and supposed-girl, including Hardy having sent to the “girl” a picture of his privates. In the video, Hardy tells “Perry” he went to Lancaster to talk the “girl” out of sex, because, he said, “it’s not right.”
The affidavits contain the detailed communications between Hardy and the “girl” that police had forensically downloaded from Perry’s cellphone. Police subsequently executed a search warrant at Hardy’s residence, confiscating his cellphone and other items, including clothes he was wearing when he went to Lancaster and alcoholic beverages. Data from the cellphone was extracted through forensic work done by state police at the Fogelsville barracks.
During an interview with Hardy, the defendant admitted sending the messages and picture of his privates through the SKOUT dating application and traveling to Lancaster with intentions to meet the 15-year-old girl and have sex with her.
He told police he “made a stupid mistake,” relating he was “trying to get over a breakup from his ex-girlfriend, who he shares two children with, and decided to get onto the dating application to try to (find) someone to move on with his life,” the affidavit states.