Church in Crisis
Rev. James Hargadon

Louisville Courier-Journal
September 29, 2002

[See the main page of this special section on the Church in Crisis.]

Ordained in 1955, Hargadon has been named in four lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville. He retired early this year after surgery from St. Patrick Church, where he was a senior associate pastor. He has made no comment on the allegations.


PLAINTIFF: John Kaelin
AGE: 41
ADDRESS: Waxahachie, Texas
OCCUPATION: Department manager, distribution center
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1974, cabin on trips to Rough River ACCUSATION: Oral sex
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Kaelin said Hargadon performed oral sex on him, then on Lawrence Thompson, another plaintiff, as they slept in bunk beds. Both were altar boys and worked part time in the garden at St. Polycarp. Kaelin said he woke up and asked Hargadon "what the hell he was doing. He told me to lay quiet, that it would be over in a minute." Kaelin said he witnessed part of the episode involving Thompson. Kaelin also said Hargadon would give the boys beer and smoked marijuana with them after they finished chores in the garden.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? The boys talked to each other the next day about what happened, Kaelin said. But he said he never told his parents. Kaelin said that about 12 years ago, when he was seeking an annulment of his first marriage, he told what happened to a bishop, the Rev. Thomas Tschoe[p]e. Kaelin also said he mentioned it to his parish priest, the Rev. Mark Seitz, during a confession that was required when Kaelin and his second wife decided to renew their vows in a Catholic church.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I have mixed feelings about the church. It is hard to keep your faith when you've seen something like this happen to you. I still believe in the Catholic faith but I have problems going to church. I try to block out what happened, but some days you can and some days you can't."

PLAINTIFF: Lawrence G. Thompson
AGE: 43
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Pipefitter
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1973 to 1976, St. Polycarp rectory and on trip to Rough River
ACCUSATION: Fondling, oral sex
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Thompson said Hargadon fondled him. He also said the priest performed oral sex on him on a trip to Rough River.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Thompson said he told John Kaelin the morning after Hargadon performed oral sex on him.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: When he first called an attorney "I didn't leave my name. I just wanted to lend support to others who had filed suits. But it started eating away at me. I didn't know if he was around other children. I needed closure myself."

PLAINTIFF: Todd C. Robertson
AGE: 39
ADDRESS: Shelbyville
OCCUPATION: Auto production team leader
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1974 and 1975, St. Polycarp rectory, at Robertson's home
ACCUSATION: Sexual abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Robertson said Hargadon was a family friend who molested him many times. Another plaintiff, Jeffery Scott, said Hargadon told Robertson he would get him a $1,000 scholarship to attend a Catholic high school if Robertson went along with the acts and didn't report him. Robertson said he couldn't confirm that because he is cooperating with a criminal investigation of Hargadon.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I haven't been back to a Catholic church for the last 15 years because of this. I have tried to go to other churches, but it is too hard for me to trust. I don't want the same thing to happen to my kids."

PLAINTIFF: Jeffery T. Scott
AGE: 41
ADDRESS: Louisville
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE, LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1973 and 1974, St. Polycarp rectory
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Scott said he was assigned to help priests move books and furniture and that Hargadon molested him one time.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I trusted Father Hargadon and I feel I was betrayed. It wasn't so bad what he did to me, but for other boys, it was unreal."

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