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Police arrest pastor, wife

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

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

A Morgan County Superior Court arrest warrant charged the minister with four counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, two counts of criminal deviant conduct, two counts of intimidation, neglect of a dependent and sexual battery.

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 to approach the vehicle.

Harness was rapidly removed from his 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.

Court documents filed Wednesday in Morgan County charge Buffy Harness with four counts of sexual mis-

conduct with a minor, two counts of criminal deviate conduct, one count of sexual battery and one count of neglect of a dependent.

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

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