Fayette County Priest Accused of “Immoral Activity”, Looking to Remove Himself as Member of Clergy

SPRINGFIELD — A priest with the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese has been accused of “immoral activity inconsistent with the life of a priest” and has taken steps toward removing himself as a member of the clergy.

That claim was made by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki against the Rev. Barry J. Harmon in a Sept. 5 letter to the priests of the Springfield diocese obtained by The State Journal-Register over the weekend.

The same information was posted Tuesday in a statement on the diocese’s website.

Harmon, 55, who served as parochial vicar at St. Aloysius and Christ the King parishes in Springfield in the 1990s, has been the subject of an investigation by the diocese that he allegedly misappropriated up to $29,000 in church funds at parishes in Vandalia and Ramsey, where he served as pastor, the letter and statement said.

The statement also said that while investigating Harmon’s tenure at Vandalia and Ramsey, pornography was discovered among his possessions.

The diocese said the materials were “turned over to the Vandalia Police Department, who determined that no child pornography was involved.”

Vandalia police Chief Jeff Ray acknowledged Harmon was the subject of a criminal investigation, after police were notified by the diocese, from Feb. 13 to March 16, but that the investigation is now considered “closed.”

Police say the possible financial misappropriation wasn’t part of the initial investigation, but the information has been reported to police.

The diocese’s statement on Tuesday confirmed financial information from the two parishes — Mother of Dolors in Vandalia and St. Joseph’s in Ramsey — has been turned over to police.

Harmon was ordained a priest in 1990. He was also chaplain of the Vandalia Correctional Center.