June 21. 2013 2:15PM

Danville selectman pleads guilty to assault on teen at town movie night

By Jason Schreiber
Union Leader Correspondent

BRENTWOOD - A Danville selectman has been given a suspended 60-day jail sentence after pleading guilty to assaulting a teenager at a town movie night last August.

Russell Harding, 36, of 23 Coburn Hill Road, entered a guilty plea June 12 – nearly two weeks before he was set to go on trial in Rockingham County Superior Court on two counts of simple assault, both class A misdemeanors.

He pleaded guilty to grabbing a 13-year-old boy by the back of the neck on the night of Aug. 18 during the incident at Day Field. The second charge accusing him of forcing the boy’s head into a table was dropped.

As part of the sentence handed down by Judge Marguerite L. Wageling, Harding must stay away from the teenager and his family, undergo an anger management evaluation, and complete five hours of community service. His 60-day jail sentence was suspended for a year so long as Harding stays out of trouble and a $620 of a $645 fine also was  suspended.

Harding previously denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty earlier this year.

He has claimed that he approached the boy because he thought he was going to tamper with town equipment used to show movies.

Harding told selectmen last September that he put himself in between the teenager and the movie equipment and that when he did so he "touched" the boy.

Harding was arrested in September and took a leave from the board. He refused to resign despite the criminal case against him, a move that angered fellow board members who couldn't force him to quit because he’s an elected official.