New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | February 22, 2020

Cumberland Hospital therapist charged, arraigned in New Kent Circuit Court

By Andre Jones | February 10, 2020 1:44 pm

An employee of Cumberland Hospital in New Kent County was indicted by a multi-jurisdictional grand jury on Feb. 5 related to crimes against a minor.

Herschel Harden, 72, was indicted on two charges of sexual penetration by force stemming incidents that took place from the Fall 2018 to Winter 2019.

Harden worked as a psychotherapist at the facility when the crimes allegedly took place. He appeared for arraignment in New Kent Circuit Court on Monday morning. After hearing the two charges, Harden was granted the ability to hire a lawyer by Judge B. Elliott Bondurant. The defendant has approximately two weeks to make arrangements or must appear back in court on Feb. 24. No trial date has been set in the matters.

In other New Kent Circuit Court matters:

–Carlos Lamont Erskines, 40, of the 100 block of Winterset Pass, Williamsburg, received formal sentencing to a single count of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine). During a Dec. 9, 2019 trial, Erskines admitted that he possessed the substance after a Virginia State Trooper searched his vehicle due to it emitting the odor of marijuana.

Erskines received a five-year sentence with four years, 11 months suspended (one month to serve).

–Sheronda Monica Hilliard, 33, of Prince George, entered an Alford Plea of Guilt to an amended charge of misdemeanor trespassing (originally credit card larceny) as part of a plea agreement. An Alford Plea means that while the defendant does not admit guilt, evidence presented in the trial would be sufficient to convict her of the crime.

In a summary of evidence, a New Kent deputy responded to a call for service about funds being removed from a victim’s bank account. Hilliard and the victim were new employees at Cumberland Hospital and an investigation revealed that the defendant obtained the personal information from the victim when both were filling out direct deposit forms. More information discovered that some of Hilliard’s bills were paid for using the victim’s account, leading to the defendant’s arrest.

Under the plea agreement, Hilliard received a 12-month sentence with all but 20 days suspended on the conviction. She must also pay $226.88 in restitution.

–Vanessa Ann Johnson, 47, of the 4900 block of Lewis Puller Memorial Highway, Gloucester, received formal sentencing on a single count of felony embezzlement.

During an Oct. 18, 2019 trial, Johnson entered a no contest plea, stipulating that evidence presented in the case would convict her of the crime. At that trial, evidence presented showed that Johnson worked at Rick’s Local Deli in New Kent and stole money and merchandise from the store.
Johnson received a 10-year sentence with eight years, nine months suspended (one year, three months to serve). She must also pay restitution in the amount of $1,000.

–Garrett Christian Rigsby, 20, of the 5600 block of Buckhunt Lane, New Kent, had one charge of possession of a controlled substance (mushrooms) dismissed after successfully completing the first offender program.

–Julie C. Smith, 46, of the 1100 block of Duncan Drive, Williamsburg, was sentenced to jail on one count of obtaining money by false pretenses and misdemeanor failing to appear. During a Dec. 9, 2019 trial, Smith admitted that she forged checks while the owner of Stratus Painting was out of the country and cashed them at Lanexa Plaza.

Smith received a 10-year sentence with all but one month suspended on the obtaining money by false pretenses conviction. She also will serve a month on the misdemeanor failure to appear. Upon her release, she was ordered to transfer to the Real Life Recovery Center in Richmond and also pay $750 in restitution.