EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

June 21, 2013

Danville selectman pleads guilty to assaulting boy

(Continued)

Harding has refused to speak publicly about the case since his arrest and did not return calls seeking comment yesterday. His attorney, Raymond Mello, also could not be reached for comment.

Harding’s fellow board members were annoyed when he took a leave of absence in November from the $250 a month job, saying he was afraid his legal troubles would be a distraction. He was asked to resign but refused.

Harding later said he would not return until after Feb. 28, believing his case would be resolved by then.

After his court case became delayed, he did not return until March, but Selectmen Chairman Shawn O’Neil later said Harding contributed little, if anything, to the board’s discussions.

“He’s basically been sitting there and not doing anything,” O’Neil said. “The board feels uncomfortable. I wish he would have just resigned before because he’s a distraction.”

O’Neil could not be reached for comment last night.

O’Neil has said selectmen were frustrated they could not replace Harding because, under state law, a public official can be removed from office only if convicted of a felony.

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