Ex-Priest Guilty of Third-Degree Rape
Bruce Ewing Had Sex with Teen in 1970s

By Jason Riley
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
March 23, 2007

For years, Janet Goodner blamed herself for the sexual relationship she had with former Roman Catholic priest Bruce Ewing in the 1970s, when Goodner was a teenager.

"I felt that I corrupted a Catholic priest," Goodner said in an interview.

But yesterday, a Jefferson Circuit Court jury put the blame on Ewing, finding him guilty of third-degree rape after deliberating for less than two hours. The jury — made up of six men and six women — acquitted Ewing on two charges of sodomy.

Ewing, 59, hung his head after the rape verdict was read. He remains free on $2,500 bond, pending his formal sentencing May 17 by Judge Martin McDonald. He did not comment as he left the courthouse.

The prosecution and defense later agreed on a sentence of three years in prison or, if McDonald decides to grant probation, a five-year sentence if Ewing violates the conditions of his release.

Had Ewing been found guilty of all the charges, he could have been sentenced to as many as 15 years in prison.

"I would like to see him serve some time," Goodner said after the verdict. "I've served a lot of years."

Ewing, who left the priesthood in 1977 and was later an aide to two Louisville officials, was accused of abusing Goodner between 1974 and 1976 while a priest at St. Vincent de Paul Church.

He testified that he knew Goodner but did not have a romantic relationship with her.

A previous trial in September 2004 ended in a mistrial when one juror refused to convict Ewing.

In his closing arguments yesterday, Ewing's attorney, David Lambertus, noted that numerous friends and co-workers from throughout Ewing's life testified that he was a caring and trusted person.

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

Goodner filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese in 2002 and was among 243 plaintiffs who shared in a $25.7 million settlement with the archdiocese in 2003.

In addition to Ewing, four priests and two former parochial-school teachers in the archdiocese have been convicted of sexual abuse since the scandal erupted in 2002. Of that group, three are in prison, one is on house arrest, one has completed his term and one has died.

Yesterday, Goodner noted that the lawsuit was settled before Ewing was tried — and that if money was her goal, she wouldn't have had to continue pushing the criminal case.

Goodner said it was only when her children became young teenagers that she realized how innocent she had been — and that she'd been victimized.

Now, Goodner said, she is ready to move on with her life.

"I'm really just tired," she said.

Reporter Jason Riley can be reached at (502) 582-4727 or


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