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Saratoga deputy suspended until criminal case wraps

A deputy in the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department has been suspended until the conclusion of a criminal case that alleges he had involuntary sexual contact with four victims, according to Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy. The suspension was announced on Thursday, Dec. 17.

Donald Harder III, 29, was indicted on 11 counts stemming from reports from four victims who alleged some form of unwanted and involuntary contact by Mr. Harder while was on duty and in uniform, according to Murphy.

The victims were either charged defendants in custody, witnesses to a crime or were reporting a crime when the incidents occurred, said Murphy.

A Grand Jury heard the case over the past several weeks and heard from the alleged victims and other law enforcement personnel. Saratoga County Sheriff James Bowen requested the assistance and cooperation of New York State Police Forensic Identification Unit and evidence retrieved from the crime scene was sent to the New York State Police Crime Lab in Albany.

If convicted, Harder faces up to seven years in a state correctional facility.

"These allegations were as shocking to me as they were to the Sheriff. 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," said Murphy. "if there are other victims out there, they should come forward and I promise their cases will be investigated and if Mr. Harder committed additional alleged crimes, he will be charged."

Murphy said that he does not believe "one alleged criminal act" of a deputy tarnishes the "outstanding professionals who work hard every day in law enforcement" to keep the community safe.

Harder's arraignment is scheduled for early next week.

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