Sex Assault Suspect Linked To Other Cases
Authorities say the man accused of raping a woman, he met on a city bus, may have more victims. Asheville Police have linked 43-year-old Nicholas Harding to at least three other assaults and have filed additional charges against him.
Investigators say in all of the cases, Harding described himself as a "Mob Boss" but police don't believe that is true.
Harding allegedly sexually assaulted a woman Saturday afternoon near the intersection of Brevard Road and Pond Road.
The victim says Harding grabbed her by the hair, threw her down an embankment and dragged her under a bridge. The two had traveled from one side of town to another on the same city bus. Search warrants state during the violent attack he put his hands around her neck until she couldn't breathe and then he raped her.
Despite Harding's threats, the woman tells News 13 she called for help. She says she didn't want him to hurt anyone else but after his arrest police quickly learned he may have already tried.
"We do know of one additional victim that has come forward and additional charges have been put on Nicholas Harding for assault on female and communicating threats," said Sgt. Dave Romick with the Asheville Police Department.
Detectives say that victim filed a report on December 2nd. They tell News 13 they were able to link to Harding to both crimes because during both assaults he claimed to be associated with the Mafia.
"We don't believe in any way shape or form that this guy is anyway affiliated with the mafia or organized crime," said Sgt. Romick.
Authorities do believe he could be tied to two other local assault cases.
Harding is said to be from Charlotte and has been living in Asheville for the past 3 months. Asheville Police is working with investigators in Charlotte to try and find out additional information about him.
The Asheville Police Department is requesting any persons having recent contact with Harding to call Detective Scott Piper at 828-271-6136 or the Asheville Police Department at 828-252-1110.