Commonwealth Journal

Local News

July 25, 2013

Pastor pleads guilty to sexual abuse at 2004 camp

Somerset — A former Cincinnati pastor accused of sexually abusing children in 2004 while at a camp in Pulaski County was sentenced in court last week.

Claude Stephen Harmon, 56, of Cincinnati, appeared before Pulaski Circuit Judge Jeffrey T. Burdette Thursday and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney David L. Dalton.

Harmon, was the senior pastor of the Maineville Baptist Church, in Maineville, Ohio, at the time the allegations occurred, according to information provided by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department for a 2010 Commonwealth Journal article.

Harmon traveled to Camp Victory in Pulaski County with his church during the week of June 21 through June 26, 2004 for a junior camp, and again during the week of July 19 through the 24 for a teen camp.

The church rented and used the facilities at Camp Victory for those camps.

The initial investigation into those allegations began in Ohio, when two male juveniles younger than 12 years old reportedly told their parents that Harmon had inappropriately touched and fondled the boys.

In a subsequent interview, Harmon allegedly told investigators in Ohio that he had committed the acts both in Ohio and in Pulaski County.

Harmon was indicted on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse by a Pulaski County grand jury in April 2005 — nearly a year after the alleged sexual molestation took place and after a joint investigation by Pulaski County and Warren County, Ohio authorities.

Harmon had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in the Ohio case, and he served time in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, or CCI, after he pleaded guilty in April 2005 to no fewer than 10 counts of sexual imposition for fondling 9- and 10-year-old boys at the Maineville Baptist Church or living quarters next to the church. Most of those incidents occurred between June and September 2004, according to the Dayton Daily News.

One charge dated back to 2001.

Harmon was booked in the Pulaski County Detention Center on April 11 for his court appearance here. Dalton stated that Harmon pleaded guilty to the two counts of first-degree sexual abuse in the Pulaski County case.

Dalton also noted that Harmon will most likely receive jail credit for the Pulaski case because he had already served time behind bars in connection with the Ohio charges.

Dalton did confirm that Harmon would be a lifetime registrant on the sex offender registry and that he would still have to complete all the steps required of a Kentucky sex offender before being released.

The allegations against Harmon resulted in a 2009 civil suit brought against Camp Victory by one of Harmon’s victims, who was nine years old when the abuse occurred. The victim’s family had claimed the staff of Camp Victory were negligent, which resulted in the sexual abuse.

Harmon was not a member of the camp’s staff when the abuse occurred.

That case was dismissed without prejudice by the plaintiffs in Sept. 2010.

 

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