Michigan State Police Sergeant Kevin Hardoin
THE MACOMB DAILY
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 3:00 AM EST
Cop not guilty of sex charges
A Michigan State Police trooper was acquitted
Tuesday of all charges in connection with sexually explicit online "chats" in which he engaged with law enforcement
A Macomb County Circuit Court jury of nine women and three men deliberated less than four hours before
reaching its verdicts in the trial of Trooper Kevin Hardoin.
Hardoin, 45, a 14-year veteran of the state police,
was found not guilty on all 13 charges against him. He had faced as many as 10 years in prison had he been convicted.
"I just want to thank everybody who prayed for us and thank the jury," Hardoin said. "I just want to say,
Hardoin, who's on suspension from the state police, was accused of several computer crimes
related to online contact in which he engaged with members of the Michigan Attorney General's computer crime unit.
Authorities maintained the trooper believed he was communicating with 14-year-old girls during several chat sessions
between September and November 2006. Hardoin also sent a sexually explicit video to the officers.
The charges against
him were related to Hardoin trying to solicit or entice minors to engage in immoral behavior.
But Hardoin denied
he was a child predator. During his testimony, the trooper said he was engaged in a role-playing "fantasy world,"
and he believed those with whom he chatted were similar-minded adults.
During his testimony, Hardoin said the chat
rooms he visited included disclaimers that led him to believe all participants were adults.
that in addition (to Hardoin) the other principals (engaged in role playing) were the officers," said Richard Convertino,
Convertino also pointed out that photographs the officers sent to Hardoin, ostensibly of
underage girls, were never produced for the prosecution or introduced as evidence in court. The lawyer suggested the photographs
might not have depicted minors.
"They kept saying there was evidence of (photographs of) naked, young girls,"
Convertino said. "We were never showed any of these photos."
Because of the nature of the charges, jurors
were required to listen to graphic, sexually explicit details. Convertino praised the jurors for their ability to set aside
the emotion and concentrate on the evidence.
"They analyzed the evidence and took out the (emotional) nature
of the charges," he said.