Minister, wife facing child molestation charges

Jonathan and Buffy Harness
Jonathan and Buffy Harness

MORGANTOWN, Ind. (WISH) – On Friday, new details emerged in the child molestation case against a Morgan County minister and his wife. Jonathan and Buffy Harness are behind bars after they were found in a hotel in Columbus.

Jonathan Harness is facing several charges, including sexual misconduct with a minor, criminal deviate conduct and sexual battery. His wife is facing multiple charges for aiding, inducing, or causing sexual misconduct with a minor.

WANE’s sister station, WISH-TV, learned those charges involve a younger female family member.

Officials said the Harnesses’ address is listed in the 100 block of  E. Washington Street, a church in Morgantown. That church used to be named Abundant Life Fellowship Church, but neighbors say they haven’t held mass there in about a year.

“They moved here about five years ago,” said one neighbor.

“They kept pretty much to themselves. I would see him outside mowing and they would say hi to me,” neighbor Richard Clark said.

“They’re just difficult cases, and I would be lying if I didn’t say they were difficult,” said Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega. “They break your heart at times.”

Sonnega wouldn’t discuss specific details in the case, but said the victim is now safe.

The Martinsville Reporter-Times reports, according to an oral probable cause hearing, witnesses told investigators a family member was going to become a “second-wife”to Harness, and that plans had been made for her to have his children. The paper also reports that witnesses said Harness prayed to God that if he spared his sick son, he would quit having sexual relations with a family member.

“In Morgan County, we only have charges on one victim. There may be charges in other counties,” said Sonnega.

Indiana State Police assisted the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and others in finding the couple after a warrant was issued for their arrest. Their investigation spanned from Morgantown to Johnson County, to Bartholomew County, where officers found the Harnesses in a hotel in Columbus.

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