Arrest Made In Violent Sexual Assault Case
A West Asheville man is in the Buncombe County Jail accused of an attack the victim says involved the suspect following her across Asheville on a city bus.
The charges against 43-year-old Nicholas Harding include first-degree sex offense, kidnapping and assault by strangulation.
The woman believes she was targeted. She says she'd never met Harding and that she first ran into him as they both rode the bus Saturday afternoon along Tunnel Road. It was at the intersection of Brevard and Pond Roads, all the way over in West Asheville, that trouble was about to begin.
A police warrant provides detailed information about a violent attack that came out of nowhere at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. It was along a windy, secluded stretch of Pond Road the woman says Nicholas Harding suddenly grabbed her by the hair, threw her down an embankment and dragged her under a bridge.
She tells investigators she tried to escape, the suspect struck her about the head several times and that she hit Harding with rocks and burned him with a lighter.
The warrant further states the suspect then put his hands around the victim's neck until she could not breath. She says that's when the sexual-assault took place.
The woman says Harding made a verbal threat that if she didn't meet him again Sunday, he would send someone to "take care of her and her young daughter."
Harding is being held under a $165,000 bond.