Bethesda man faces 10 counts of rape

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – A Bethesda man was arraigned Thursday on 10 separate counts of rape of a child, a felony of the first degree occurring in 2008 with one instance in 2009.

Richard Jeffrey Hart, 49, 113 Liberty Lane, pleaded not guilty.

His pre-trial was set for Oct. 22, with plea agreement March 4 and trial March 12. His posted bond of $200,000 was continued. Judge Jennifer L. Sargus will preside in the case.

Prosecutor Chris Berhalter represented the state. Public Defender Eric Costine represented Hart. Magistrate Amy Busic presided.

Hart was not present at the arraignment. In March, after posting bond, Hart jumped from a 45-foot high section of Interstate 70 in the Morristown area in a suicide attempt. He was transported from the scene, critically injured and with two broken legs.

Costine noted that Hart has no independent mobility and was under care at a facility in the Woodsfield area. Berhalter asked that the exact address be provided for bond supervisors. He also asked that Hart’s medical condition be verified and documented continuously until the trial.

“We have 10 counts of rape of a child” he said. “Our concern was the safety of the public with him being out there, so we did ask for some assurances that his medical condition is as it was represented here in court and the probation department is going to follow through with that.”

Each count of rape is a felony of the first degree carrying a possible life sentence.

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