Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Priest pleads guilty to molesting boy, 14

By Brett Barrouquere
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty Tuesday to molesting a boy in the mid-1970s and received an eight-year prison sentence.

The Rev. James Hargadon, of Louisville, admitted to molesting the 14-year-old boy at St. Polycarp School in Pleasure Ridge Park in 1976, where Hargadon was pastor. He pleaded guilty to second-degree sodomy.

Hargadon, 76, is already serving eight years in prison after being convicted in Grayson County in April of sexually molesting two boys 30 years ago. Hargadon will serve both sentences at the same time.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Carol Cobb said the plea and concurrent sentences will make a difference when Hargadon becomes parole eligible in about two years.

"I certainly think the parole board will look at the fact that he has two convictions when the time comes," Cobb said.

Defense attorney David Lambertus declined comment after the hearing. The victim in the Jefferson County case, identified in court only as T.R., also declined to comment after the hearing.

Cobb said plea negotiations took place after Hargadon's conviction in Grayson County, when a jury found him guilty of molesting two altar boys at St. Polycarp in 1974. The victims are now 44 and 43.

The plea ends the case quickly, an important step given Hargadon's age and the trauma the victim in the case has suffered, Cobb said.

Hargadon was one of eight priests removed from public ministry by Louisville Archbishop Thomas Kelly in 2002 after allegations of abuse.

Two of Hargadon's victims were 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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