Charles Hardy Jr.
By Joe Johnson
The head of a local nonprofit group that operates a county-sanctioned homeless camp was convicted Tuesday on misdemeanor charges stemming from the assault of a female camp resident.
At the end of a two-day trial in Athens-Clarke County State Court, a jury found 50-year-old Charles Hardy Jr. guilty of battery, disorderly conduct and one count of simple battery for hitting the woman and another count of the offense for spitting on her in August 2022.
Jurors found him not guilty of charges related the alleged assault of a second woman in the same timeframe.
Judge Ethelyn Simpson sentenced Hardy to 72 hours in the county jail and 24 months of supervised probation. The judge also ordered him to have anger-management counseling, and to have a mental health assessment. She ordered him to report to jail the morning of May 12.
A second criminal trial for Hardy is pending, for an alleged assault of a woman who worked as an office assistant at the homeless facility.
The 1st Step encampment is located on Barber Street and is a program that is operated by the nonprofit Athens Alliance Coalition, of which Hardy is executive director. It began operating in March 2022 and is funded by a $2.5 million contract the county awarded to AAC. The contract gets its funding through the federal American Rescue Act and is providing Hardy’s organization with money 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.