Teen bound over on charges he molested boy, possessed child porn | NevadaAppeal.com

Teen bound over on charges he molested boy, possessed child porn

F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Zachary Harding is escorted from the Storey County Jail to court Thursday afternoon in Virginia City for a preliminary hearing on charges related to the molestation of a 5-year-old boy. Harding was bound over on two counts of possession of child pornography, one count of sexual assault of a child under 14, one count of lewdness with a child under 14, one count of open and gross lewdness. He will be arraigned Sept. 16

A 5-year-old Storey County boy, whose story was sometimes lost in the thick tangle of a child’s speech, conveyed to a Virginia City judge on Thursday afternoon that Zachary Harding, 18, touched him.

Sitting atop pillows on a chair in the witness stand, the child said Harding touched his genitals.

“I told him no,” the boy said.

Justice of the Peace Annette Daniels found that the boy’s testimony – along with that of a computer expert who allegedly recovered child pornography from Harding’s computer – was enough evidence to bind the Reno teenager over on two counts of possession of child pornography, one count of sexual assault of a child under 14, one count of lewdness with a child under 14, one count of open and gross lewdness.

According to police records, Harding was arrested July 10 in the molestation of the 5-year-old brother of a friend after the alleged victim told his parents. Harding was staying with the Virginia Highlands family after being evicted from his Reno apartment.

The preschooler, his neatly trimmed hair spiked on top, answered questions from both the prosecution and defense as to what happened on the day in June when he was playing video games and Harding allegedly touched him.

Recommended Stories For You

“He touched it,” the child said.

But it was hard at first to decipher the word “touched” so Assistant District Attorney Laura Grant asked the boy to show what he meant.

The child held his thumb and forefinger apart and moved his arm up and down.

The boy went on to say that Harding also showed his genitals to him and that he allegedly licked the boy.

“Did anyone tell you to make this story up to get Zach in trouble?” asked Harding’s Reno defense attorney Shelly O’Neill.

“No,” the boy said, “He just did it.”

Talova Davis, a computer forensic examiner with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, testified that Storey County Sgt. Ken Quirk brought her Harding’s laptop computer.

She said she made a copy of the hard drive and began to search for “images that appeared to depict child pornography,” as directed by a search warrant.

Davis said she located thousands of images, but actually only viewed more than 100 photographs of children under the ages of 16 engaged in sexual acts with other children and adults.

Davis said she also viewed 10 videos of similar content.

Quirk said the images were of boys as young as 6 months old.

The boy’s father also took the stand to say that he’d never spoken to Harding after his son’s allegations.

“I talked to the sheriff and that was it,” the father said.

When asked by O’Neill if his son knew the difference between good and bad touching, the man said he did.

“You believed him at that point to be credible,” she asked.

“Yes, I do,” the father said. “He knows the consequences of lying.”

Harding, a Web page designer, remains in the Storey County Jail on $100,000 bail.

He will be arraigned in District Court on Sept. 16.

Go back to article