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Ex-police chief serving time for murder linked to 1997 rape of elementary teacher

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - A former police chief in northwest Arkansas has pleaded not guilty to the 1997 rape of an elementary school teacher. A recent analysis of DNA evidence from the victim led investigators to Grant Hardin, who is currently serving 30 years in prison for murder.

Grant Hardin entered the plea Monday in Benton County Circuit Court. According to CBS affiliate KFSM, he's next due in court May 21. 

Hardin is charged with three counts of rape, and one count each of kidnapping and sexual abuse. 

Hardin, who had served as Gateway's police chief, was accused of the rape after authorities said DNA linked him to the decades-old case. The state obtained his DNA after he pleaded guilty in October to fatally shooting a man last year. He's currently serving 30 years in prison for that case. 

According to KFSM, the teacher was at the school on a Sunday preparing a classroom at Frank Tillery Elementary School when she left to use the restroom. A police report states that she was confronted by a man with a gun as she was leaving the bathroom, who then raped her in two different locations.

The statue of limitations on rape in Arkansas is six years; however, the first "John Doe warrant" in the state was issued that year in order to continue the search for the suspect, the station reports.

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