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Petition to oust Danville selectman dismissed

BRENTWOOD — A judge has dismissed a petition filed by Danville selectmen who asked the court to remove a fellow board member.

Rockingham County Superior Court Judge William Delker this week granted a motion by selectmen to drop the case against Russell Harding after he resigned from his elected position on his own.

Selectmen had sought a court order to oust Harding for allegedly violating ethics and his oath of office. The board didn’t provide details of the allegations, saying only that he brought private, nonpublic information into a public forum and “acted recklessly for his own personal gain.”

Selectmen first asked Harding to resign from the board last fall after he was charged with physically assaulting a 13-year-old boy at a town movie night.

Harding, who pleaded guilty to the assault in June, refused to step down and could not be forced out by the board because he held an elected position.

Selectmen became frustrated when Harding failed to show up for many of the board’s regular meetings after the assault.

Selectmen recently filed the petition to have him dismissed by the court. Harding denied the allegations that he violated ethics and his oath and asked that the petition be thrown out.

Harding then resigned from the board effective Aug. 19, but in his letter of resignation stated that he was quitting because of his “increasing responsibilities outside of town.” He added that he doesn’t have time for the position and that it wasn’t fair to Danville residents.

Harding’s resignation made the selectmen’s petition a moot point.

Selectmen are now in the process of finding a replacement to fill Harding’s seat until voters elect a new selectman in March.

The board is expected to conduct interviews with prospective candidates on Sept. 9.

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