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Retired Priest Is Sentenced To 8 Years

May 19, 2004 | The Courier-Journal

The Rev. James Hargadon, a retired priest who served in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, was sentenced yesterday to eight years in prison for abusing two boys in 1974 at a cabin on Rough River Lake.

A Grayson Circuit Court jury found Hargadon guilty last month of sexually molesting Lawrence Thompson and John Kaelin during a summer when the boys were working in a garden at St. Polycarp Church in Pleasure Ridge Park, where Hargadon was pastor.

Hargadon, 76, who had been removed from active ministry by Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, did not make a statement to Judge Robert Miller. The defendant, who wore an orange jail jumpsuit, showed no emotion when the sentence was announced.

Neither victim attended the sentencing. They had testified that Hargadon, who had befriended them while they were students at the parish school, plied them with alcohol and marijuana at his family cabin, and that each awakened to find Hargadon performing oral sex on them.

The abuse occurred the summer between Kaelin's graduation from St. Polycarp and his freshman year in high school. Thompson was a year older.

They spoke about the abuse the next day, and, according to an investigator's note in the court file, Kaelin said they "were both so angry they talked about shoving Fr. Hargadon off a cliff."

In a telephone interview, Kaelin said of the sentence: "I don't think it's enough, but it's better than nothing. I actually think he had 30 years of freedom too much."

Thompson could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Both Kaelin 43, of Waxahachie, Texas, and Thompson, 44, of Louisville participated in the $25.7million settlement that the archdiocese reached with 243 abuse victims last year.

Thompson's civil suit alleged that he also was abused in the rectory at St. Polycarp, although that was not part of the Grayson criminal case.

Hargadon would be eligible for parole after serving a little more than a year and a half. He also faces a criminal trial in Jefferson County, where he is charged with sodomizing Todd D. Robertson in 1976, when Robertson was 14. That trial is scheduled for June 8.

Hargadon is the third priest from the archdiocese to be convicted since 2002 on sex-abuse charges. The others are Louis Miller and Daniel Clark.

A Louisville native, Hargadon was ordained in 1955 and served in several assignments, including as pastor of three parishes: St. Polycarp, St. Edward in Jeffersontown and St. Francis Xavier in Mount Washington.

He retired in 1998 but continued to perform part-time parish duties until 2002, when he retired after surgery from St. Patrick Church, where he was senior associate pastor.

That same year, Kelly barred Hargadon from public ministry as abuse allegations surfaced.

The archdiocese did not release a statement regarding yesterday's sentencing.

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