New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | February 26, 2021

Former Cumberland Hospital doctor no-shows for court; found in Williamsburg with self-inflicted gunshot, dies at hospital

By Andre Jones | February 22, 2021 11:39 am


A former psychotherapist at Cumberland Hospital failed to appear Monday morning at his New Kent Circuit Court case. He later died in the day to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Herschel Harden, 73, was scheduled to show up in court according to defense attorney Fernando Groene on the possibility of a plea agreement. But when the defendant never entered into the courtroom, Groene told Judge B. Elliott Bondurant about the pressure his client was facing.

“I spoke with him Friday and I spoke with him yesterday about a plea agreement,” the defense attorney said to the court. “He was telling me the things he was feeling, and that media coverage has pushed him over the edge.”

Groene also commented that Harden had gone to a priest to take sanctuary. However, the defense attorney has been unable to get in contact with his client or the priest.

Bondurant wasted no time issuing a capias for Harden’s arrest and revoking his bond.

Around the same time, the Williamsburg-James City County Police Department responded for a call for service around 10 a.m. where Harden was discovered with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Harden was later transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead during the afternoon hours.

Harden was facing two counts of sexual penetration with an object by force with a minor from alleged incidents that took place from Fall 2018 to Winter 2019 while he worked at Cumberland Hospital in New Kent.

In other morning proceedings in New Kent Circuit Court:

–Eric Nathan El Dada, 27, of the 3600 block of Autumn Hill Lane, Quinton, entered into a plea agreement by pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor fleeing away from a law enforcement officer. One count of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer was dropped.

In a summary of evidence, on June 28, 2020, a New Kent Sheriff’s Officer responded to a call for service about an alleged domestic assault. When the deputy arrived, he questioned El Dada about the offense. When the deputy tried to arrest the defendant, El Dada pushed the officer and took off on foot before eventually being taken into custody.

Under the agreement, no formal finding was rendered as the defendant will undergo mental health counseling. The defendant must also take his prescription medication and take all counseling classes for the next two years. Formal sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 2023.

–George Gonzalez III, 29, of the 2000 block of Aloma Drive, Virginia Beach, entered a guilty plea to an amended charge of misdemeanor destruction of property (originally felony destruction of property).

In a summary of evidence, Gonzalez was leaving a wedding intoxicated when he caused damage to a vehicle belonging to John Anderson on July 25, 2020. When the defendant left the scene, an Apple Watch was found, tracking authorities to the defendant and leading to his arrest.

Under the plea agreement, Gonzalez received a 12-month sentence with eight months suspended (four months to serve) on the misdemeanor conviction. He must also pay restitution in the amount of $2,856.06 for the damage he caused to the victim’s vehicle.