HARRODSBURG — A Harrodsburg police officer indicted on 146 counts related to an alleged three-year sexual relationship with a juvenile pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday in Mercer Circuit Court.
Jason Elder, 31, entered the not guilty plea in his first appearance before Judge Darren Peckler, who set a $10,000 bond releasing Elder on his own recognizance and prohibiting him from any contact with the girl or her family.
“We’re glad he set a bond,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Cocanougher of Springfield, who was assigned as special prosecutor for the case. “The primary thing is the no contact. There has not been any contact with her since the indictment as far as we know.”
Elder, a four-year veteran of the Harrodsburg department, was suspended without pay last month pending the outcome of the case.
He is charged with two counts of rape, 48 counts of sodomy and 96 counts of first-degree sexual abuse. The incidents were ongoing between 2007 and 2009, according to the indictment.
The girl was 14 years old when the relationship began after Elder came in contact with her because of his position as a police officer, the indictment states.
Judge Darren Peckler set Elder’s next court appearance for Aug. 9. The judge said he knows Elder from his work as a police officer and also knows the victim’s family, and invited Elder’s attorney to ask for Peckler to recuse himself from the case. Jude Hagan, who was standing in for Elder’s hired attorney, Elmer George of Lebanon, said he did not know if a recusal would be requested.
“It seems like both sides could ask for a recusal, but I’m not sure either side will,” Hagan said afterward.