CROWN POINT — A 61-year-old man charged in two violent sexual assaults last October in East Chicago was denied a bond reduction Thursday in Lake Criminal Court.
Harold G. France, who appeared in custody Wednesday with defense attorney Theresa Hollandsworth, asked Judge Clarence Murray to reduce his $100,000 surety bond.
The reduction amount sought was not specified, but Hollandsworth said her client was unable to pay his current bond.
Deputy Prosecutor Nadia Wardrip said the state opposed a reduction, citing France's extensive criminal history, which includes five prior allegations of sexual assault dating to 1972.
She said France was a flight risk and a “huge” danger to the community, describing him as “a predator — in the truest sense of the word.”
France currently faces rape charges in two separate cases. He allegedly sexually assaulted a woman Oct. 12 at his East Chicago apartment building. He then allegedly abducted a girl walking in the 3900 block of Main Street on Oct. 16 and sexually assaulted her at knife point in an alleyway.
Another man was initially charged in the girl's sexual assault, but he was exonerated after DNA collected during a medical examination of the girl matched France's DNA.
France has pleaded not guilty in both cases.
France first entered the criminal justice system at 15 years old after he was charged in 1972 with carrying a pistol and assault and battery with intent to gratify sexual desires, according to court records.
He was accused in that case of forcing a girl to disrobe at gunpoint and attempting to rape her, according to Times archives.
He pleaded guilty to the firearm charge and a lesser battery offense and was sentenced to one year in jail.
He was charged in 1974 with rape and robbery. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to the rape charge, records state.
He was accused of rape again in 1982, but the case was dismissed. In 1988, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for dealing cocaine.
He was released from prison in March 2009. He was charged in two sexual assaults in 2014, but the charges were pleaded down to criminal confinement last February. He was sentenced to five years in prison, time he served awaiting trial.
The criminal confinement convictions did not require him to register as a sex offender.
Murray denied the bond reduction request. A new court hearing is scheduled for April 11.