Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Minister accused of sex abuse had passport

Bond set at $500,000 for minister charged in molestation of boy

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

LEBANON - A former Maineville Baptist minister who allegedly admitted to sexually abusing a 12-year-old church member was issued a passport earlier this year and may have been planning a trip abroad, it was revealed during a court appearance on Tuesday.

Stephen Harmon, 47, was ordered held in the Warren County Jail on $500,000 bond on one count of gross sexual imposition, and was ordered not to have any contact with anyone under age 18 or to be within 500 feet of anyone under 18 if he is able to post bond.

Warren County Court Judge James Heath also appointed a public defender to represent Harmon on a charge of gross sexual imposition and ordered that Hamilton Township police retain Harmon's passport.

The passport was issued in March, Hamilton Township Police Chief Eugene Duvelius said. "That indicates that he was ready to travel somewhere," the chief said. "People just don't get passports to hang around the States."

Authorities believe Harmon had plans to travel as a missionary out of the United States but they have not yet found a plane ticket, Duvelius said.

Harmon was charged last week after the parents of a boy told police that Harmon had had sexual contact with the child. Police said the minister admitted to the conduct and also indicated there may be as many as five additional victims, all boys.

The investigation is continuing and additional charges are expected.

Investigation indicated the activity had been ongoing for about 12 years, Duvelius said.

The age range of the children is now believed to have been between 8 and 12 at the time the activity occurred, he said.

Since the first complaint, at least two more parents have told police their children may have been victimized by Harmon, Duvelius said. Interviews with those children have not yet taken place.

Authorities hope to present the case to a Warren County grand jury soon.

Harmon had been pastor of the Maineville Baptist Church for about 15 years.

The former Maineville Village Council member was dismissed from the church last week.



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