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Sheriff deputy pleads guilty to sexual abuse, will likely face jail time

Saratoga County Sheriff's Deputy Donald Harder III will likely face jail time come May. Accused of sexual abuse by four women between June and August of 2009, he pleaded guilty to a felony Menacing in the First Degree, a misdemeanor Official Misconduct and four misdemeanor counts of Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree on Thursday, March 11, according to Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy.

Harder, 30, is expected to receive a sentence of six months in Saratoga County Jail and five years probationary supervision at his sentencing Thursday, May 13, according to Murphy's office.

Harder was accused by four separate women of making sexual demands while in uniform and making them fear physical injury if they didn't comply. Harder was said to be in uniform, wearing his service weapon on his gun belt and standing next to his marker patrol unit while on duty when demands were made. The incidents occurred between June and August 2009 and all four women came forward individually and on separate occasions, according to information from Murphy's office.

The judge will also most likely sentence orders of protection against the victims, Harder's resignation from the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department and statutory fines and surcharges. He will be required to submit his DNA to the DNA convicted offender databank maintained by the Division of Criminal Justice Services, said Murphy.

Former Deputy Harder has been held responsible by a felony conviction for his criminal conduct. He will go to jail and will never wear a uniform again. Harder, acting as a police officer, while on duty and having sexual contact with women is reprehensible, criminal and official conduct. It further violates the public trust that we all place in police officers, said Murphy in a statement.

According to Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Buckley who prosecuted the case, she worked closely with victims and said they are satisfied with the plea.

Harder had been on the force for three years and was generally assigned to the northern part of Saratoga County including Edinburgh, Corinth, Day and Hadley. He was immediately suspended upon his arrest on August 11, 2009.

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