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Priest Convicted of Molesting Two Boys 30 Years Ago

Apr 21, 2004 | AP

A Roman Catholic priest has been convicted on charges that he sexually molested two boys 30 years ago, and the jury has recommended a sentence of eight years in prison.

The Rev. James Hargadon of Louisville, was found guilty by a Grayson Circuit Court jury. The jury of five men and seven women reached the verdict Monday evening after about 90 minutes of deliberations. The penalty phase of the trial ended early yesterday morning, Commonwealth's Attorney Kenton R. Smith said.

Hargadon, 76, was convicted on two counts of indecent or immoral practices with another, Smith said. He was sentenced to eight years on each count, but the sentences will be served concurrently, Smith said.

Hargadon's bond was revoked and he reported to the Grayson County Detention Center yesterday morning, Smith said. He will be formally sentenced at a later date, Smith said.

The victims, Lawrence Thompson, 44, of Louisville, and John Kaelin, 43, of Waxahachie, Texas, testified that Hargadon befriended them while they were students at St. Polycarp School in Pleasure Ridge Park, where Hargadon was pastor.

They testified that Hargadon supplied them with alcohol and marijuana at a cabin at Rough River and later performed oral sex on them. The cabin was in Grayson County.

Hargadon's attorney said the two men came forward for money, saying they kept silent about their allegations for nearly 30 years until joining a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Louisville.

In testimony, Kaelin called that notion "a crock. It's not about money. It's about closure to being abused and not being able to speak about it."

Kaelin and Thompson were altar boys in their early teens in 1974 and also worked in the St. Polycarp rectory garden.

Both men testified that they did not speak up at the time because priests were held in such high esteem and they feared they would not be believed. They also said they felt humiliated.

Hargadon, 76, was charged with two counts of indecent or immoral practices with another. He was one of eight priests removed from public ministry by Archbishop Thomas Kelly in 2002 after allegations of abuse.

Kaelin and Thompson's case was among more than 240 plaintiffs who filed lawsuits accusing the archdiocese of covering up sexual-abuse cases involving dozens of priests, teachers and others involved with the church. The archdiocese settled the lawsuits for $25.7 million last year.

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