LEWISTON – A 33-year-old Lewiston man charged with enticing a child over the internet and the possessing sexually exploitative material of a child has been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Gary J. Hardin, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of enticing a child over the internet and one count of possessing sexually exploitive material of a child. On Wednesday, Judge Mark Monson sentenced Hardin to five years in prison until parole eligible with up to 365 days of retained jurisdiction, with five years of possible parole after. The sentences for each count will run concurrently.
According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Big Country News Connection, Hardin was found to have been communicating with a minor via Snapchat, attempting to solicit sexual images from the minor while also sending her explicit photographs of himself.
The investigation began in early March 2022 after the parent of the child notified the Lewiston Police Department that they had reviewed contents on their child’s phone which revealed the child had been communicating via Snapchat with a “man with a beard,” who was later identified as Hardin.
After learning this information, the concerned parent then began messaging Gary on the phone, posing as the child. According to the probable cause affidavit, Hardin would consistently send messages via Snapchat that contained text and pictures of his face. He then reportedly started requesting photos of the child, sending messages saying he was going to “be her first.” In the messages, Gary also reportedly acknowledged the extreme age gap between himself and the child.
As the conversations continued, Hardin became more insistent on receiving photos of the child. Hardin then send sexual photos of himself, fully exposed.
After learning and reviewing the information, police contacted Hardin at his workplace, where he agreed to speak with officers. After being read his Miranda rights, Hardin then admitted to using Snapchat for approximately 10 years. When confronted about his activity on the app, he also admitted to soliciting sexually exploitative images from the child for his sexual gratification.
While speaking with law enforcement, Hardin also identified another juvenile girl from which he had received a sexual video from sometime between September 2021 and January 2022.
Based on the information, Hardin was arrested for Enticing a Child Through the Use of the Internet and Possessing Sexual Exploitative Material of a Child.