Destin Lamar Noble (left) and Brett Leland Hardy

Destin Lamar Noble (left) and Brett Leland Hardy

Two men accused of raping a teenage girl in late 2015 pleaded guilty to lesser charges of sexual battery in Catoosa County Superior Court this week and now face a year in prison and four years on probation.

Destin Lamar Noble, 19, and Brett Leland Hardy, 20, were arrested in May 2016 after being indicted by a Catoosa County grand jury amidst allegations they supplied a teen under 16 years of age with alcohol during a get-together at a house on Holcomb Road in Ringgold and sexually assaulted her.

The men were 17 and 18 at the time of the incident and faced charges of rape, aggravated child molestation, and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

According to Superior Court, both pleaded to one count each of sexual battery and have been sentenced to five years; one to be served in prison, and the other four on probation.

Hardy entered his plea Friday, Sept. 8, and reported to the Catoosa County jail on Monday, Sept. 11, while Noble entered his plea Sept. 11 and is slated to report to jail on Sept. 18.

Noble's involvement in the crime garnered a lot of community support in his defense, as he was a popular student and cheerleading instructor at the time.

Neither defendant's attorney could be reached for comment regarding the decision to enter plea bargains, but Noble, who now uses his middle name on Facebook, did post about his decision.

"People will always think what they want," he wrote. "Always. When you have a life to consider, a family, a career. You make decisions. The fools that are talking nonsense, know none of the truth, and hardly any of the facts. I made my decision based on what's best for my life. I wasn't taking a chance on going on trial for something I didn't do and facing a minimum of 25 years to life, with no chance of parole. I plead to reduced charges, because that's how court works! They bring you deals, they offer state recommendations---& with what I've dealt with for the past two years, I'm ready for this chapter to come to a close. My side of the story will come out, in the right time and in the right way. For those of you who continue to love and support me, thank you. For those who continue to pray, thank you. For those who want to act foolish and talk out the end where poop comes out, remember first and foremost; you aren't my judge."

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.