Net porn led man to rape tot, lawyer says
He faces 17 years in state prison after pleading guilty

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 21 1999 12:00 a.m. MST

Kenneth Rodger Hardy started experimenting with pornography on the Internet.

Once the high-tech, sex superhighway got rolling, he couldn't stop it. Before long he was stockpiling pornography on videotapes and computer disks and videotaping himself performing sex acts on a 15-month-old female relative."It got away from him," said Hardy's attorney, Lee Rasmussen. "That's the root of the problem."

Hardy pleaded guilty Monday to rape of a child, sodomy of a child and aggravated sexual abuse of a child, all first-degree felonies, for raping and sexually abusing the 15-month-old girl while he was baby-sitting her.

The charges surfaced after Hardy's son-in-law discovered the videotape, filmed sometime between Aug. 1 and Oct. 8. The son-in-law showed the tape to the baby's mother, who turned it over to Grantsville police.

A hobbled Hardy stood before 3rd District Judge David Young in the Tooele County Courthouse Monday morning. Hunched over because of back pain, Hardy signed the plea agreement, knowing he could be in prison for a very long time.

Charges of sexual exploitation of children and possession of pornography are still pending against Hardy in federal court. Hardy faces anywhere from 15 to 25 years in federal prison if he is convicted of those charges.

As a result of his guilty plea, Hardy faces 17 years to life in state prison. That minimum time could also increase because of how young the child was, Tooele County deputy attorney Gary Searle said. Young said he would watch the footage before sentencing Hardy, who turned 49 Tuesday.

Those images are something Searle would rather not have in his head. He had to turn the tape off after viewing five minutes of it, but those five minutes were enough to charge Hardy with six first-degree felonies.

Rasmussen, who worked in the FBI 23 years before becoming a defense attorney, has also seen the tape. He said Hardy has no explanation for why he sexually abused the girl or videotaped the act.

"He feels terrible," Rasmussen said. "He has a lot of remorse. It's been devastating to him. It is an egregious case, and he realizes that."

After Hardy pleaded guilty, Young denied a request from Rasmussen to reduce Hardy's $250,000 cash bail. Rasmussen argued Hardy needed to spend time with his elderly parents in West Valley City -- his father has a heart condition, and his mother has a form of cancer.

Rasmussen also argued Hardy could get better treatment for his back problem. The jail has been giving Hardy muscle relaxants. His injury stems from a car accident 12 years ago and has been re-aggravated since he's been in prison. Instead of reducing Hardy's bail, Young revoked any bail for Hardy, saying he is a threat to the community.

So far, the 15-month-old victim has shown no signs of trauma from the incident, Searle said. Dealing with the shock of betrayal by a trusted relative has been harder on the girl's parents. Both declined comment after Monday's change of plea, but the fact that Hardy finally admitted his guilt offered some comfort.

In exchange for Hardy's plea, prosecutors dropped three remaining first-degree felonies.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS