Ex-Priest on Trial in Rape Case
Ewing Accused of Sex with Teen
By Jason Riley
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
September 2, 2004
The attorney for former priest Bruce Ewing described him yesterday as a man "with a heart as big as his body" who helped and cared deeply for his parish members in the 1970s and later for the people he served as a city employee.
But prosecutors and a former student at the St. Vincent de Paul parish's school, Janet Goodner, said Ewing was a priest who cursed, drank and used his position of power to sexually prey on a teenage girl.
"I thought I was in love," Goodner testified yesterday on the first day of Ewing's rape and sodomy trial, battling several times to keep her composure.
"It was just like a relationship you would have with a boyfriend."
Goodner said she had a consensual relationship in the mid-1970s - starting when she was 14 - when Ewing was a priest at St. Vincent de Paul Church.
She testified they started having sex when she was 15 and broke up two years later when she learned that Ewing - who was by then in his late 20s - was dating an older teenager.
Prosecutor Carol Cobb told a Jefferson Circuit Court jury that Goodner was one of 10 children in a struggling family who became "easy prey for an older man."
"He was her everything," Cobb said.
But Ewing's attorney, David Lambertus, told the jury that Ewing befriended and helped Goodner, as he did many young people, but did not have sex with her.
"It was not weird or odd," he said of the relationship. "There was nothing sexual about it."
Lambertus said that Goodner only came forward when the news broke about sexual abuse lawsuits being filed against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville two years ago.
Goodner filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese in 2002 and reached an undisclosed settlement through mediation a year later.
Ewing's trial, which is expected to finish today or tomorrow, is the last criminal case pending against a priest accused of abuse in the archdiocese since litigation began in 2002.
Ewing, who left the priesthood in 1977, was also an aide to two council members of Louisville government in the last decade and before that was an ombudsman for residents relocated for the expansion of Louisville International Airport.
He also has been a tavern owner, police chaplain and mechanic for the city's Department of Public Works.
Goodner described Ewing yesterday as "like a celebrity at church," a young priest who allowed drinking and often had teenagers at his home to hang out.
She said she came forward with her allegations in 2002 after hearing media accounts of church abuse and after seeing her own children become teenagers.
"I realized that I was just a child" then, Goodner testified. "I'd always thought I was grown ... that it was something I did to corrupt this Catholic priest."
John Barnes, one of Goodner's brothers, testified that he and his sister drank at a church dance in 1975 and ended up spending the night in Ewing's apartment in the rectory.
He said he slept on the couch and woke up in the middle of the night and saw his sister, apparently naked, in a bed with Ewing.
Ewing is expected to testify today.
GRAPHIC: Bruce Ewing was once a priest at St. Vincent de Paul Church. He left the priesthood in 1977.
Source: The Courier-Journal
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