April 20, 2005

Minister gets 10 years for sex abuse

Dayton Daily News

By Lawrence Budd
Dayton Daily News

LEBANON | The Rev. Claude Steve Harmon avoided life in prison but was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years and designated a sexual predator for fondling 9- and 10-year-old boys at the Maineville Baptist Church or living quarters next to the church.

Judge James Flannery sentenced Harmon, 48, according to an agreement in which Harmon pleaded guilty to 11 charges of gross sexual imposition or sexual imposition. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed a rape charge which carries a sentence of life in prison because the victim was 9 years old.

Flannery also ordered Harmon to pay for counseling for the victims all but one molested from June to September 2004 at the church or pastor's residence. One charge dated to 2001.

Harmon agreed to plead guilty on March 1, but defense lawyer Jeff Kirby said they were ready to go to trial, rather than plead guilty to the rape charge.

Harmon, abused by a neighborhood man when he was 7, needs psychological help, not prison, Kirby said. However, Flannery questioned why Harmon, a trained counselor with a doctorate, never sought counseling himself.

Posted by kshaw at April 20, 2005 01:59 AM