By GREG SCELLIN, Signal Editor
A former Exeter man was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for sexual contact with two children.
Jesse R. Harder, 31, formerly of Exeter and now incarcerated, was sentenced on November 8 to not less than 19 years nor more than 20 years with the Nebraska Department of Corrections by Fillmore County District Court Judge Vicky Johnson for the Class 3 felony charge of Child Abuse. Judge Johnson also sentenced Harder to three years in prison for the Class 3A felony charge of Child Abuse. Both convictions had a sexual component with them.
Judge Johnson ordered the sentences to be served consecutively and gave Harder 243 days credit for time served. The defendant was also ordered to pay $1,069.50 in court costs and to undergo DNA testing. Harder will also have to comply with the Nebraska Sex Offender Act Registration for his lifetime. He was placed in custody with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office after the sentencing and transported to Lincoln.
The Nebraska Attorney General’s office assisted the Fillmore County Attorney’s office in prosecution the case. The charges stem from incidents that occurred from May 15, 2012, and October 8, 2013; December 18, 2015, and January 5, 2016; and August 6, 2015, and January 5, 2016. Harder was initially charged with two counts of 1st degree sexual assault of a child, both Class 1 felonies. The defendant accepted a plea agreement on September 13 to the two lesser Class 3 felony counts.
Prior to announcing her sentence, Judge Johnson commented Harder had already received any leniency from the judicial system for his actions—actions that she noted he was still in denial of.
“You received an extremely generous plea bargain in this,” Johnson said. “You were faced with life imprisonment with one of the original charges. Plainly said, Mr. Harder is a sex offender of children.”
Harder has a previous felony underage sexual contact conviction on his record. He also has 12 infractions and 15 misdemeanors on his criminal record. Harder pleaded no contest and guilty to the two recent charges in the plea agreement. He addressed the court prior to sentencing.
“I take responsibility for what I have done,” Harder said. “But, I will not (take responsibility) for what I haven’t done.”