Former Priest Pleads Innocent to Molesting Girl
Jefferson Charges Allege He Abused Her in the 1960s
By Gregory A. Hall
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
July 9, 2003
Former Catholic priest Charles F. Dearing pleaded innocent yesterday in Jefferson Circuit Court to a charge of sexually abusing a girl between 1966 and 1968, when he was still in the ministry.
Dearing, 79, of the 500 block of Spanish Court, is out of jail on a $10,000 cash bond.
The indictment accuses Dearing of forcing a girl younger than 15 to perform oral sodomy on him. If convicted, he could receive a sentence of one to 10 years.
The indictment does not say where the abuse took place.
Dearing is represented by attorneys Jack and Trevor Smith, who are father and son. Trevor Smith said last night that Dearing will fight the charges "absolutely, a hundred percent, without a doubt."
Dearing was accused of sexual abuse in one of the more than 250 cases that were filed since April 2002 against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville. The plaintiff in that civil case, Theresa Harp, 49, alleged that Dearing molested her between approximately 1966 and 1968 while he was a priest at St. Frances of Rome Church.
Harp is one of the plaintiffs in the $25.7 million settlement agreed to by the archdiocese and attorneys for the group of plaintiffs. Her attorney in that case, William McMurry, said Harp is the prosecuting witness in the criminal case.
Dearing left the priesthood in 1971.
A pretrial hearing in the criminal case against Dearing is set for Sept.3.
He is the second former priest to be indicted in Jefferson Circuit Court. The case of former priest Bruce Ewing, who has pleaded innocent, is scheduled for Nov.18.
Retired priest Louis E. Miller pleaded guilty to sexual abuse charges in both Oldham and Jefferson Circuit courts. He is serving a 20-year prison sentence on the Jefferson County charges and awaits sentencing in Oldham County.
A Bullitt Circuit Court jury recently convicted the Rev. Daniel Clark, a priest who had been removed from active ministry, of abusing two boys. He also awaits sentencing.
A retired priest, the Rev. James Hargadon, faces sexual abuse charges in both Jefferson and Grayson counties; he has pleaded innocent in both cases. Charges also are pending in Jefferson Circuit Court against two former Catholic school teachers, Gary Kazmarek and Joseph B. Greene III. Both have pleaded innocent.
Charles F. Dearing will fight the charges "absolutely, a hundred percent, without a doubt."
Trevor Smith, one of the former Catholic priest's lawyers
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