The former Magoffin County Deputy Judge Executive was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a life time of supervised release for using a computer to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, and receiving child pornography images.
Walter Edward Hardin, 29, pleaded guilty in March of this year and admitted that between April and October of 2008, he communicated online with an individual he believed to be a 14-year-old female cheerleader from Lexington. In actuality, Hardin had been chatting with an undercover officer with the Kentucky State Police Electronic Crime Branch, who was posing as the teenage cheerleader in a chat room.
Hardin admitted that he engaged in sexually explicit chats with this individual he thought was a teenager; including chats about having sexual intercourse with her. Hardin made arrangements to meet the undercover detective (thinking he was meeting the female teen) at an agreed upon location in Lexington for the purpose of having sexual intercourse.
When Hardin arrived at the agreed upon location, he was arrested by detectives with the Kentucky State Police Electronic Crimes Section and found in possession of two condoms.
“For the community’s sake it’s fortunate he met with an undercover detective and not a real 14 year-old girl,” said Assistant United States Attorney Hydee Hawkins after the sentencing. “This man was definitely a danger to the community.”
Hardin also admitted that his work computer, which was seized during the execution of a
state search warrant at the Magoffin County Judge Executive’s Office, contained approximately 14 videos and several hundred photographs of children under the age of 18 engaged in sexual explicit acts. Some of the children were as young as four years old.
“You were in a position of responsibility,” said United States Senior District Court Judge Joseph Hood before imposing the sentence. “Not only did you abuse that trust but you brought great shame on your community.”
Hardin admitted that he utilized Limewire, a file sharing program, to download child pornography to his work computer between June and October of 2008. The investigation was conducted by Kentucky State Police, Electronic Crime Branch which is the Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Lexington Metro assisted in Hardin’s arrest. The United States was represented in the case by Assistant United States Attorney Hydee Hawkins.
This case was brought as part of the Eastern District of Kentucky’s efforts pursuant to Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative dedicated to protecting children from online exploitation and abuse.