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Head of Athens nonprofit arrested for allegedly assaulting women at sanctioned homeless encampment

Updated: Aug 31, 2022


Charles Hardy Jr.

By Joe Johnson

The head of a local nonprofit was arrested this week for allegedly assaulting two women at a county-sanctioned homeless encampment that his group operates on Barber Street, according to Athens-Clarke County police.

The incident marked the second time in less than three months that residents and a former employee of the 1st Step encampment for Athens’ unhoused residents made criminal complaints against 49-year-old Charles Hardy Jr. of Bethlehem, president and executive director of Athens Alliance Coalition, Inc., which contracts with the county to operate the encampment.

The incident report for his week’s incident was not yet available on Wednesday, but ACCPD’s public information officer Lt. Shaun Barnett provided the following account of what allegedly occurred:

On Monday morning officers were dispatched to 1st Step in reference to a fight.

“Officers arrived at the scene and made contact with Jada Prothro who stated that she was there to pick up her belongings, when she was informed that her belongings were placed in the dumpster,” Barnett said.

“Prothro stated that she went to the dumpster on the property to get her belongings, at which time Hardy approached her and punched her in the face, causing a visible injury to her lip, the officer said. “The two then began fighting. Prothro also stated that her mother approached to defend her, and that Hardy also hit her mother several times, causing visible injury to her mother’s face.”

Barnett said, “Officers spoke with witnesses that observed various aspects of the incident. Officers received information that at another point during the encounter, Prothro struck Hardy with an open hand.”

“As a result of the on-scene investigation by officers, Hardy was placed under arrest for two counts of battery and Prothro was arrested for simple battery against Hardy,” according to Barnett.

Hardy said that Prothro's tent and belongings had been discarded because it's policy that belongings cannot be left unattended for 72 hours, and Prothro had been gone for about a week.

During the confrontation in his office, he said, Prothro "balled up both fists and hit me in the face."


Jada Prothro

Later that afternoon, Hardy said, Prothro and several other females, including her mother, showed up at the gate and began attacking him. He alleged that one suspect had a can of mace, and Prothro's mother tried stabbing him with a switchblade knife.


A surveillance camera image purportedly shows Charles Hardy being assaulted at the entrance gate at the 1st Step homeless encampment

The first criminal complaints against Hardy were made in June, according to police, who said a female 1st Step employee alleged that Hardy inappropriately touched her and she quit because of repeated such behavior at the encampment.

Barnett on Wednesday said that investigation was currently inactive because “at this time there is not sufficient probable cause to make an arrest.”

1st Step, which began operating in March is funded by a $2.5 million contract awarded to Athens Alliance Coalition by the Athens-Clarke County Board of Commissioners. The contract is funded by the federal American Rescue Act, and it is providing Hardy’s organization with funding to operate the camp for one year, with the possibility of a 10-month renewal.

With a 55-bed capacity, the program works with Advantage Behavioral Health Systems to place residents in long-term housing.

Hardy and Prothro, 20, were both released from the county jail Monday night upon posting $5,000 and $1,500 bonds, respectively.

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22 Comments


This was all so predictable, the citizens of Athens didn’t want this encampment for reasons like this.

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Crystal Teet
Crystal Teet
Sep 01, 2022

Charles Hardy is a good man and is doing great things for the homeless community without this place I don't know where I would be people like this girl a very ungrateful!!! And because of her actions all of us get a bad rap

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Replying to

We know this is you sir.

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There is nothing good about any of this!!!! Shame on our Commissioners, shame on our mayor, shame on ACC!!!

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Guess she didn't like #tentlife (Gabby Petito #vanlife). Throwing huge $ at homelessness is stupid. This is what you get. Hardy got overpaid, but that's ACC fault not his. He is learning what an ungrateful job he has signed up for. He will vote Republican in another year or two. (On record with this comment before!) Thank goodness for cameras. Unfortunately, the homeless family will get off with nothing because they check more boxes female, black, homeless (unless Hardy is gay or trans), then it's a toss up. Where is Mariah Carey Parker when you need her! She could fix this with a protest!

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Replying to

go fuck yourself

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She looks like she’s smiling for her high school yearbook photo.

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