Sexual battery allegations

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 5, 2017

A former Picayune Memorial High School NJROTC instructor was arrested by the Picayune Police Department Wednesday for six counts of sexual battery of a minor.

With the aid of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Steven Todd Hardin, 48, of 2714 45th Street, Meridian, was arrested at Northeast Lauderdale High School where he is currently employed, according to a statement from Picayune Police Chief Bryan Dawsey. 

The alleged inappropriate conduct with one student occurred during the 2015-2016 school year, Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said.

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The Picayune Police Department investigated the incident after reports were filed with the Picayune School District and the department, according to the statement.

Dawsey and other department representatives declined to provide further details about the incident, including the age or gender of the student involved or where the crimes occurred, citing the matter is still under investigation.

“Mr. Hardin is a person who was in a position of authority and abused his authority when it came to his alleged sexual conduct with students,” Dawsey said in the statement. 

Hardin was indicted by a Pearl River County Grand Jury, Magri said.

Indictment paperwork was unavailable through the Pearl River County Circuit Court as of Thursday afternoon.

He was originally detained by the Lauderdale County jail but was transported to the Lenoir-Rowell Criminal Justice Center in Pearl River County, Magri said.

“We fully expect to prosecute Mr. Hardin to the fullest extent of the law. There is no place in society for these types of people and we are determined to bring him to justice. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victim and the victim’s family and we hope that the arrest of this predator will help bring some peace of mind to the family,” Dawsey said.

The Picayune School District did not respond to requests for comment by press time Thursday.

Statement from Picayune Police Chief Bryan Dawsey.

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