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Paraplegic faces jail in violent citizen’s arrest

4-5-2011 Massachusetts:

Victim’ charged with child abuse

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe is pressing ahead with a felony assault charge that could put a paraplegic grandfather in the slammer for up to 10 years for whacking his 3-year-old granddaughter’s alleged molester with a Louisville slugger after setting a trap for his arrest.

As a result of 57-year-old Martha’s Vineyard computer salesman Frank Hebert’s unconventional citizen’s arrest, Joshua A. Hardy, 27, of Middleboro, now faces child molestation charges in a second case out of Wareham involving another little girl, authorities tell the Herald.

“I’m not a hero, that’s for damn sure,” Hebert, his voice cracking, said last night. “I’d do it again tomorrow, knowing the consequence. I didn’t have a choice. A 10-year-old kid could take me. This is not about me. This is about a tiny child. I would never tell her I took a risk for her. I’d tell her I loved her.”

Hebert, left confined to a wheelchair with only partial use of his arms after a car crash in Falmouth a decade ago, was summonsed to Edgartown District Court on March 25 and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He said he was advised by a judge to get an attorney and is due back in court May 2 for a pretrial conference.

O’Keefe refused to discuss Hebert’s prosecution last night, saying only, “It’s a case that will take place in court and that will be the appropriate time for public comment.”

Hardy, meanwhile, is being held at the Plymouth County House of Correction on $125,000 cash bail.

Assistant Plymouth District Attorney Bridget Norton Middleton said Hardy was arraigned Feb. 23 in Wareham District Court on three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, one count of enticing a child and one count of disseminating obscene material.

A subsequent investigation into separate accusations, Middleton said, led to Hardy being charged last month by Wareham police with two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 based on incidents alleged to have occurred Jan. 7 and Jan. 17 involving another alleged victim.

Hardy’s Taunton attorney, Jean Marie Whitney, did not return multiple calls seeking comment.

Hebert’s granddaughter is the child of his life partner’s daughter, but he considers her his kin. The child goes by a different name and her mom married the accused last summer.

Hebert claims it was over Christmas that the tot began asking her grandparents to protect her.

On Feb. 22, Hebert said his partner took her daughter and granddaughter, who were visiting, back to the mainland to talk to police, while he lured Hardy to his Mac PC Sales and Service shop in Vineyard Haven.

Hebert said “fear” prompted him to bring a baseball bat to the rendezvous and call state police to back him up.

Hebert said he pointed the bat at Hardy and ordered him to stay seated until police arrived, but Hardy, he said, stood up and laughed at him — and that’s when he used the bat.

“All I had was a 39-inch-long baseball bat,” he said. “I never intended to hit him. If I was a standing man, I wouldn’t have brought a bat, but without it, I am a bloody ragdoll." ..Source.. Laurel J. Sweet and Christine McConville

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