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Couple with Brown County ties charged with multiple sex crimes
Updated on: 02.27.14

COLUMBUS -- A Morgantown minister and his wife, charged with multiple felony counts involving child molestation, were arrested in Columbus after a five-hour search, police said.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department had been tipped off Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 25 that the Rev. Jonathan Harness, 43, and his wife, Buffy Harness, 44, might be in the Columbus area, Chief Deputy Maj. Todd Noblitt said.

Morgan County authorities warned that Buffy Harness and the couple’s two children, believed to be in their teens, might be in danger, Noblitt said.

Police also were warned the minister might try to provoke law enforcement into killing him, Noblitt said.

Deputies searched areas of both southern and northern Bartholomew County, as well as southern Johnson County, but were unable to find the couple’s 2002 Chevrolet Silverado, Noblitt said. Also involved in the search were officers from Morgan County, the Indiana State Police and the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Noblitt said.

While most searchers were in the Taylorsville area, Sgt. Jim Green Jr. of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department spotted the couple sitting in their parked vehicle outside the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center on Jonathan Moore Pike, near Interstate 65, shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday, Noblitt said.

After confirming he had the right vehicle, Green waited until additional officers arrived before approaching it. Jonathan Harness was removed from the vehicle at gunpoint and taken into custody without incident, Noblitt said.

The two children were found unharmed inside a Clarion motel room a short time later, he said.

Jonathan Harness was taken to the Bartholomew County Jail, where he was ordered held without bond. Buffy Harness was taken to the Morgan County Jail in Martinsville, Noblitt said.

Each was charged with two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, Class A felonies; two counts of criminal deviate conduct, Class B felonies; two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, class B felonies; and sexual battery and neglect of a dependent, both Class D felonies. Jonathan Harness also was charged with two misdemeanor counts of intimidation.

State police reported the couple's address as 140 E. Washington St., Morgantown. 

The original date on the charges against Buffy Harness is listed in Morgan County court documents as Oct. 24, 2010.

In April 2010, Buffy Harness opened a shop at the north end of Nashville, Livin' the Legacy, featuring Confederate flag gifts and "southern heritage" memorabilia.

At that time, she identified herself as a lifelong Brown County resident, mother of four and former nurse. Jonathan was a pastor at Abundant Life Fellowship in Morgantown.

Livin' the Legacy has since closed.

-- Mark Webber, The Republic, with the Brown County Democrat

Obituaries
See Full List »

James E. (Jim) Robinson, 76, Bedford
  Former chief deputy of police for the town of Nashville

Josephine Lee Cueto, 62, Morgantown
  Daughter of Priscilla Burgmeier of Nashville

Mary 'Jane' Kollman, 92, Nashville
  Mother of Janet (Tom) Gaskins of Nashville

  • November 26
    Go Club meeting Wednesday at coffee/tea shop
    3 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • November 26
    BC Sheriff's Merit Board
    4 p.m. Sheriff's Office, Law Enforcement Center, 55 State Road 46 East
  • November 27
    Thanksgiving dinner
    11 a.m. to 3 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • November 27
    Government Offices CLOSED
  • November 28
    Bingo
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  • November 28
    Government Offices CLOSED
  • November 28
    'St. Vincent' at the Playhouse
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  • November 28
    'A Tuna Christmas' dinner theater at the Playhouse
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  • November 29
    Euchre
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  • November 29
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • November 29
    'St. Vincent' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 29
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 30
    'St. Vincent' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 30
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    2 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 1
    BC Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • December 1
    Gnaw Bone Sewage District
    5:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 1
    BC 4-H Council
    7 p.m. 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • December 2
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 2
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission CANCELED
  • December 2
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • December 2
    BC Chamber of Commerce
    8 a.m. Willow Manor, 72 Willow St.
  • December 2
    Boys Varsity Wrestling
    7 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 3
    Woodworkers Club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 3
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    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • December 3
    BC Local Emergency Planning Committee
    9 a.m. Ambulance Base, 53 State Road 46 East
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    BC Soil & Water District
    5 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • December 4
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    WRAPS meetings
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  • December 4
    CSCD Ecology Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • December 4
    Boys Freshman Basketball
    6 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 4
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 5
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • December 5
    Children's fund annual auction
    6 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 5
    Boys JV, Varsity Basketball
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 5
    'A Tuna Christmas' dinner theater at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 6
    Church schedules drive-thru Nativity
    6 to 8 p.m. New Life Comm. Church, 1450 State Road 135 North
  • December 6
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 6
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • December 6
    Girls JV, Varsity Basketball
    1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 6
    Boys JV, Varsity Basketball
    4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 6
    'The Polar Express' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 6
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 7
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    2 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 8
    BC Animal Control Board
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 8
    Boys Freshman Basketball
    6 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 9
    Nashville Parking & Public Facilities
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • December 9
    CSCD Roads, Security commissions
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. CSCD Office, 8377 Cordry Drive; CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • December 9
    BC 4-H Fair Board
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  • December 9
    Girls JV, Varsity Basketball
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 10
    Hamblen Fire District
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  • December 10
    Local Coordinating Council
    8 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Building, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • December 10
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • December 10
    Boys Freshman Basketball
    6 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 11
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 12
    Widowed group plans Christmas party
    noon Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • December 12
    BCSP Christmas bird count slated
    8 a.m. BCSP Nature Center, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • December 12
    'A Tuna Christmas' dinner theater at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 13
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • December 13
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 14
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    2 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 16
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 School House Lane