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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 »

George D. Higgins, 86, New Whiteland
  Father of Iris (Mike) Gindling of Spearsville

Dorothy B. Hash, 97, Columbus
  Mother of Richard Collins and John Collins, both of Brown County

Stephen Wesley Spicer, 69, Nashville
  Husband of Mary Jane Spicer (Eilar)

  • March 29
    'Big Hero 6' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 29
    Mountain bike benefit to aid cheer fund
    noon to 2:30 p.m. Explore Brown County, 2620 Valley Branch Road
  • March 30
    Registration deadline for gardening soils workshop
    Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • March 31
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • March 31
    Nashville Development Review Commission
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • March 31
    Representative's staff to conduct local office hours
    10 a.m. to noon County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • March 31
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 1
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 1
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees retreat
    10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • April 1
    BC Emergency Management Advisory Council
    8 a.m. Ambulance Base, 53 State Road 46 East
  • April 1
    Brown County SWCD
    6:30 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • April 1
    BC Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 2
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artist Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 2
    Go Club meeting Thursday
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 2
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 School House Lane
  • April 2
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 2
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • April 2
    CSCD Ecology Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • April 3
    Nashville/Brown County Government Offices CLOSED
  • April 3
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 4
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 4
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • April 4
    Carnival and egg hunt at Hamblen Township Fire Department
    9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Hamblen Township Volunteer Fire Department, 5612 Gatesville Road
  • April 4
    Egg hunt at grocery store
    11 a.m. Brown County IGA, 30 Hawthorne Dr.
  • April 4
    Egg hunt at Deer Run Park
    1 p.m. Deer Run Park
  • April 4
    Egg hunt at assisted living facility
    2 p.m. BC Health & Living Community, 55 E. Willow St.
  • April 5
    Church events slated for Easter Sunday
    .m. Brown County Community Church, 2370 Main St., Helmsburg
  • April 6
    Gnaw Bone Sewage District
    5:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 7
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 7
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 7
    Bean Blossom Sewer Board
    7:30 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 7
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • April 7
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission
    4:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • April 8
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 8
    CRC Steering Committee
    6:30 p.m. CRC, 246 E. Main St.
  • April 9
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 9
    Local Coordinating Council
    10 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Hall, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • April 9
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • April 9
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 9
    BC Convention & Visitors Commission
    8:30 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 10
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North.
  • April 10
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 11
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • April 11
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • April 12
    Mother’s Cupboard Soup Bowl benefit planned
    5 to 7 p.m. The Seasons Lodge, 560 State Road 46 East
  • April 16
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 16
    Local history and heritage presented at the library
    6:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 17
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 18
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • April 18
    Rock & mineral club
    6 p.m. Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • April 24
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 25
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 26
    County history center dedication slated
    2 p.m. Brown County History Center, 90 E. Gould
  • April 26
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont