Posted at: 08/17/2009 1:54 PM
The Post-Star

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Deputy charged in assault bailed out

BALLSTON SPA - A Saratoga County sheriff’s deputy accused of sexually assaulting a woman while on duty last week was released from Saratoga County Jail after posting a $25,000 bond for his bail.

Donald A. Harder III, 28, of Hadley was charged with first-degree criminal sexual act, a felony, because, police said, he attacked a 27-year-old female acquaintance last Tuesday night in Edinburg.

Police said Harder forced a woman he knows to perform a sex act in his patrol car while he was working the 4 p.m. to midnight shift Tuesday.

The woman called police later that evening. Harder was met by investigators when he got off duty at midnight and was arrested, jailed, and suspended without pay.

Glens Falls-based lawyer Tucker Stanclift, who is representing Harder, said his client is innocent of the charges.

"I think once the dust settles and everyone stops reacting and starts investigating, we’re going to find out this was made out to be more than it is," Stanclift said Monday.

"I can only assume police officers don’t make friends with the people they encounter every day, so our investigation will focus on the motives behind the charge," he said. "The question is whether she is a victim of the crime that they’re alleging,"

Shortly after Harder was arrested, Saratoga County Sheriff James Bowen said the deputy and the woman had known each other in years past and "were reminiscing (when) one thing led to another."

On Monday, Bowen said he had nothing new to report on the case.

Harder was hired by the sheriff’s office in August 2006. He is married with three children and, Stanclift said, he is a former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq.

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