LEWISTON — A 33-year-old Lewiston man charged with luring a child on the internet and possessing child sexual abuse material has been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Gary J. Hardin, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of enticing a child on the Internet and one count of possession of child sexual exploitation material. On Wednesday, Judge Mark Monson sentenced Hardin to five years in prison until he is eligible for parole with up to 365 days of retained jurisdiction, with five years of possible parole after that. The sentences for each count will be executed simultaneously.
According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Big Country News Connection, Hardin was discovered communicating with a minor via Snapchat, attempting to solicit sexual images from the minor while sending him explicit photographs of himself.
The investigation began in early March 2022 after the child’s parent informed the Lewiston Police Department that he had reviewed the contents of his child’s phone, which revealed that the child was communicating via Snapchat with a “bearded man”, who was later identified as Hardin.
After learning this information, the concerned parent then proceeded to message Gary on the phone, posing as the child. According to the probable cause affidavit, Hardin routinely sends messages via Snapchat containing text and images of his face. He then allegedly started asking for photos of the child, sending messages saying he was going to “be the first”. In the posts, Gary also reportedly acknowledged the extreme age gap between him and the child.
As the conversations continued, Hardin insisted more on receiving photos of the child. Hardin then sent in sexual photos of himself, fully exposed.
After learning and reviewing the information, police contacted Hardin at his workplace, where he agreed to speak to officers. After reading about his Miranda rights, Hardin then admitted to using Snapchat for around 10 years. When confronted about his activity on the app, he also admitted to soliciting child sexual exploitation images for sexual gratification.
While speaking with law enforcement, Hardin also identified another young girl from whom he received a sex video between September 2021 and January 2022.
Based on the information, Hardin was arrested for enticement of a child through internet use and possession of child sexual exploitation material.