Saturday, September 4, 2004

Judge declares mistrial in case accusing former priest of rape, sodomy



By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A judge declared a mistrial Friday when a jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of a former Roman Catholic priest accused of raping and sodomizing a teenage girl decades ago.

After deliberating for five hours, jurors informed Jefferson Circuit Court Judge A.C. McKay Chauvin that they were deadlocked in the case of Bruce Ewing, who was charged with rape and sodomy.

Prosecutor Carol Cobb said she was disappointed that the trial ended with a hung jury but added, "It's not over yet."

Cobb, a Jefferson County assistant commonwealth's attorney, said she would reassess the case, which could go to trial again.

"I think we put on a strong case considering this offense occurred over 25 years ago," she told reporters afterward.

Ewing's attorney, David Lambertus, declined comment.

Ewing, who also formerly worked for a city alderman and a Metro Council member after leaving the priesthood, will remain free on bond.

If convicted, Ewing could have faced up to 15 years in prison on the one count of third-degree rape and two counts of third-degree sodomy.

Ewing testified Thursday that he never had sex with the teenager. His accuser, Janet Goodner, testified a day earlier that the relationship lasted some two years in the mid-1970s and was consensual.

In closing arguments Friday, Cobb described Ewing as a young priest in the 1970s who took advantage of a girl who had a turbulent family life and was vulnerable.

"He could not resist the human and natural urges," Cobb told the jury. "He wanted a sexual relationship."

Cobb said the relationship robbed Goodner of her faith and left her guilt-ridden. Goodner claims the relationship started while Ewing was a priest at St. Vincent de Paul Church, which she attended.

Ewing left the priesthood in 1977.

Lambertus questioned why Goodner waited so many years to raise the accusations. When she came forward, Goodner's claims first were presented in a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Louisville. Goodner eventually reached an undisclosed settlement.

"She went to see the lawyer to get money, she didn't go to the police," Lambertus said.

Cobb said Goodner was motivated by justice. She said Goodner wanted "this burden lifted off her shoulders that she had carried" for years.

Lambertus said that Ewing arranged to have Goodner live in a residential facility under the supervision of nuns during the time of the alleged abuse. Lambertus questioned why Ewing would make such an arrangement if he wanted to carry on a relationship.

He said that Ewing "doesn't have a giant closet with secrets in it."




ENQUIRER COLUMNS
Library displays vintage Corvette
Churches embrace Hispanic newcomers

TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Scandal may draw Luken into race
Records show Collins as disruptive
72,000 local voters sign up
The show goes on without Joe Rozzi
Some tips for enjoying Riverfest
State review criticizes city credit-card practices
2 die in separate shootings
Storm keeps local natives restless
Two men busted for laptop thefts
Medicare premiums going up
Baby Sumatran rhino now has a name: Suci
Murder suspect competent for trial
Farmers get more help overcoming disabilities
Blaze at religious store ruled arson
Local news briefs

KENTUCKY HEADLINES
Freedom owner files bankruptcy
Forum focus: End homelessness in N.Ky.
New pastor takes mantle from father
Confession validity argued in killing
Census survey shows SUV popularity in Kentucky
Judge declares mistrial in case accusing former priest of rape, sodomy
Appeals court won't order Fletcher to convene legislature

EDUCATION
Frailey says board critics weaken levy campaign
Kings details cuts if school tax fails
Fletcher says extra cash could go to state workers
Poets to work with students

NEIGHBORS
Hip-Hop hope: Healing
Norwood property owners win a round
Bomb scare closes center
Park pushed for by mothers of 4 teens killed in crash
Liberty Twp. prepares for planner interviews

LIVES REMEMBERED
Sr. Maria F. Coyle