Priest Convicted of Rape Avoids Prison

By Elizabeth Donatelli
May 18, 2007

(Louisville) -- A former Roman Catholic priest, who was convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl over 30 years ago, was sentenced Thursday, but that sentencing doesn't include prison time. WAVE 3's Elizabeth Donatelli was in the courtroom when the judge announced his decision.

After a 2004 mistrial, nearly three years later, Bruce Ewing was convicted of third degree rape. Two charges of sodomy were dismissed.

Janet Goodner says she and Ewing had a consensual relationship between 1974 and 1976 while Ewing was a priest at St. Vincent de Paul Church. She was 14 when it started. Ewing admitted knowing her but denied any sexual relationship with her.

Prosecutors had asked McDonald to sentence Ewing to three years in prison.

Instead, the judge sentenced Ewing to five years probation, bringing an emotional reaction from the victim.

"I don't think probation is really a punishment," said Janet Goodner. "I mean he's going to continue on with his life as he has; he will just have to report to somebody periodically, but I think going to prison would have made a big difference."

The defense argued that other than raping Goodner, Ewing has led a good life and there's no risk of him offending again.

"For the last 30 some odd years, Mr. Ewing, by everybody's estimation, has led an absolutely blameless, positive life," said defense attorney David Lambertus.

The judge agreed, and said probation would be a tougher sentence in the long-run, especially because jail time is not guaranteed.

"They won't hold anybody in the penitentiary on what I consider very serious, dangerous violations and now you compare that to Mr. Ewing who has no criminal history," said Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Martin McDonald.

Ewing is also required to register as a sex offender, which means his name and address will be posted online.

"No matter what happens in his lifetime, for me this is it, so now I really do feel like I can move on," Goodner said.


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