Southern Indiana pastor takes plea deal in 2015 child abuse case - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Southern Indiana pastor takes plea deal in 2015 child abuse case

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A pastor pleads guilty to abusing children at Well of Grace Boarding Academy in Sellersburg, Ind.

Gerald Harris' pleas to three counts of misdemeanor criminal recklessness are in exchange for a sentence of 180 days on home incarceration.

The amended charges stem from allegations last fall that Harris hit children with a paddle. 

Harris' original charges were felonies; they included battery and neglect of a dependent.

He appeared in Clark Circuit Court in Jeffersonville on Monday.

Police arrested Harris, 47, last September. They said that Harris and student coordinator Christopher Williams used a wooden paddle to beat the children, ages 8 to 19.

Investigators said one had serous bruising on his legs and bottom. Police were also told one of the children was tied around the waist with a rope and guided around for several days. Another told police he had to chew on a bar of soap as punishment.

The two men were also accused of also forcing an 11-year-old to stay in bed without being allowed access to a bathroom, and threatening to beat the child with a paddle.

Williams, 22, is scheduled for a change of plea hearing June 7 in Clark Circuit Court.

The boarding school operated under the name of Crossroads Baptist Church in Sellersburg.

Police say their investigation began after a tip from authorities in Owensboro, Ky.

Authorities there arrested a teen for allegedly groping a woman at a local mall.

The teen told police he was in town selling candy bars to raise money for the boarding school in Sellersburg, where he said he lived.

The school, attached to the church, is under Clarksville police jurisdiction but has a Sellersburg mailing address.

WDRB News reported last September that Clarksville town officials found the school was operating without a license and ordered it closed.

No one answered the phone at a number listed for the church Monday afternoon.

Harris' attorney had not responded to a phone message from WDRB on Monday afternoon.

Pastor, church worker accused of abusing children

Clark County pastor and church member in court, accused of beating students

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