Court Day for Blake Hardin

A local man, who was the object of a large search a few weeks ago, was back in Bay County court Thursday morning.

Twenty-five-year-old Blake Hardin pled not guilty to one second degree felony count of having sex with a minor.

Hardin and his former girlfriend, 17-year-old Jennifer Benton, disappeared on August 10 just a few days after she'd pressed battery charges against him.

They were gone for a week before Walton County sheriff's deputies arrested him in the Seagrove Beach area. The former Rutherford High School football star and 5-A state Player of the Year also met his public defender for the first time in court Thursday.

Not only is Hardin facing the sex charge, but also several probation violation charges both here and in Tallahassee.

He's being held in the Bay County Jail without bond. Hardin's next court date is set for October 5.