Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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December 4, 2013

Ex-youth pastor admits sexual contact with girl

GREENFIELD (AP) — A former youth pastor at a suburban Indianapolis church has pleaded guilty to charges that he had sexual contact with a girl who attended the church.

A Hancock County judge sentenced 61-year-old Steve Harding to spend two years in a community corrections program and a year on probation. Harding pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a felony charge of sexual misconduct with a minor for his actions while he was a youth pastor at New Palestine United Methodist Church.

The Daily Reporter reports prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of child molesting.

Judge Richard Culver told Harding he took advantage of the girl's trust in him as a family friend and mentor.

Authorities say the sexual conduct happened in 2009 and 2010 when the girl was 13 and 14.

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