Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 6, 2010

Local Baptist camp being sued

Somerset — An Ohio family is suing a local Baptist camp, claiming negligence on the part of the camp’s staff and owners led to the sexual molestation of one of the family’s children.

The civil suit, brought against Camp Victory, located on Camp Victory Road in Somerset, stems from a criminal investigation that took place several years ago after allegations of sexual abuse on the part of a minister traveling with a church from out of state arose.

The suspect named in that case, Claude Steven Harmon, 52, was the senior pastor of the Maineville Baptist Church, in Maineville, Ohio, at the time the allegations occurred, according to information provided by Det. Brett Whitaker with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department.

According to information from the case, Harmon traveled to 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, according to information taken from the case.

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 with Harmon, he confessed to investigators in Ohio that he had committed these acts both in Ohio and in Pulaski County,” Whitaker stated in an e-mail to the Commonwealth Journal.

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 into those allegations took place.

Harmon is currently serving a 10-year prison term 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 them between June and September 2004, according to the Dayton Daily News.

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