Fairfield counselor, coach pleads guilty to sex crime with student

A Fairfield High School guidance counselor and coach has pleaded guilty to a sex crime involving a student.

Craig Harden, 43, of Liberty Twp., entered a guilty plea this morning in Butler County Common Pleas Court to one count of sexual battery, a third-degree felony. Harden entered the plea on a bill of information, bypassing the preliminary hearing and grand jury process.

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Judge Greg Howard set sentencing for Dec. 20. Harden faces a maximum of 60 months in prison.

Harden was arraigned last week in Fairfield Municipal Court, one day after he was charged by Fairfield police with two counts of sexual battery.

According to police, Harden began his relationship with the victim at the beginning of September and it was ongoing until school administrators received allegations of the relationship.

Fairfield police detectives received a call from school administrators about the alleged inappropriate relationship and began an investigation.

Harden was interviewed at the Fairfield Police Department last week and confessed.

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“Mr. Harden told me that he did in fact have sexual intercourse with the known underage victim on two separate occasions at her home,” according to a police report by Officer Aaron Meyer. “Mr. Harden told me that the two became close in the late summer months of 2017.”

Harden, who was an assistant coach for the Fairfield High School girls basketball team and coached the girls golf team, was placed on leave Oct. 25 by the district.

“He will stay on administrative leave pending board consideration of the matter on Nov. 2,” Fairfield City Schools Superintendent Billy Smith said in a statement last week.

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