Ex-Priest's Sex Case Ends in a Mistrial
Jury deadlocked on allegations

By Jason Riley
The Courier-Journal
September 4, 2004

The rape and sodomy trial of former Roman Catholic priest Bruce Ewing ended yesterday after one juror refused to relent on his decision, some of the other jurors said.

Prosecutor Carol Cobb said that 11 jurors told her they were leaning toward convicting Ewing before the hung jury was called about five hours after deliberations began.

Former priest Bruce Ewing sat in the courtroom before his trial began earlier this week. Photo by Pat McDonogh, The Courier-Journal.

But Cobb declined to say whether she would try Ewing again, saying she would have to reassess the case. "I'm very encouraged," Cobb said. "I think we put on a strong case."

Neither Ewing nor his accuser, Janet Goodner, would talk to reporters after Jefferson Circuit Court Judge McKay Chauvin declared the mistrial.

Ewing, who left the priesthood in 1977 and was later an aide to two Louisville government officials, will remain out of jail on bail.

On the first day of the three-day trial, Goodner testified 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 then in his late 20s — was dating an older teen.

During his testimony, Ewing denied any sexual relationship with Goodner. He said she was a girl in a struggling family who needed help, which he gave her.

After deliberating for about four hours, the jury informed the judge it was deadlocked. Chauvin told the jurors to continue deliberating.

But 15 minutes later, one juror sent a note saying he wanted to speak to Chauvin.

A short time later, at 3:20, the judge called the jurors back into the courtroom and read a note in which the jurors wrote that they would not be able to reach a verdict.

Had Ewing been found guilty of third-degree rape and two counts of third-degree sodomy, he could have been sentenced to as many as 15 years in prison.

Earlier in the day, Ewing's attorney, David Lambertus, told the jury in his closing arguments that even though his client was accused of having a relationship with Goodner, only her brother, John Barnes, testified that he saw evidence the two were more than friends.

"Nobody ever sees or hears anything about this," Lambertus said, noting that numerous friends and co-workers from throughout Ewing's life testified that he was a caring and trusted person.

Lambertus said Goodner came forward only when sexual-abuse lawsuits were filed against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville two years ago.

Goodner filed a civil lawsuit against the archdiocese in 2002 and reached an undisclosed settlement through mediation a year later.

But Cobb told the jury that Goodner's claims against Ewing were highly detailed — she said, for example, that Ewing was uncircumcised and described his former apartment in the rectory.

Cobb said Goodner's claims had nothing to do with money.

"What she wanted was justice and to have this burden lifted off her shoulders after 25 years," Cobb said in her closing.


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