Assignment Record– Rev. Ellis N. Harsham

Summary of Case: Ellis N. Harsham was ordained in 1968 for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He taught in Catholic high schools in Dayton, Cincinnati and Hamilton while assisting in local parishes. He was also a St. Gregory Minor Seminary faculty member, and director of campus ministry at Wright State University.

In a lawsuit settled in 1994, a man alleged that Harsham sexually abused him as during 1975-1977, when the man was a high school student who met Harsham while attending a pre-seminary program on weekends at St. Gregory's Minor Seminary. The man said Harsham plied him with alcohol, marijuana and pornography. In a suit filed in December 1993, another man claimed Harsham sexually assaulted him when the man was a Badin High School student; Harsham taught at Badin 1977-1981. Further, former students of Carroll High School in Dayton, where Harsham taught 1968-1973, stated in the 1990s that the priest showed them pornography and seduced or attempted to seduce them.

Harsham was placed on administrative leave by the archdiocese in June 1994, and he resigned from active ministry later that year. His status remained "administrative leave" until sometime in 2006, when he was laicized.

Ordained: 1968
Laicized: 2006


Start Stop Assignments Town/Accusations State Position Notes

June 1968

Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Archbishop was Karl Joseph Alter (1950-1969), followed by Paul Francis Leibold (1969-1972), and Joseph Louis Bernardin (1972-1982).

June 1973 St. Helen's Dayton OH 3/3

St. Helen's had a school with 700-368 boys and 654-393 girls.

1968 June 1973 Archbishop Carroll High School


• In the 1990s former Carroll students alleged Harsham showed them pornography. Others said he seduced or attempted to seduce them.

OH biology and religion teacher  
1973 1974 St. Dominic's Cincinnati (Delhi Hills) OH 3/3 St. Dominic's had a school with 978 students.
1974 1977 St. Gregory Minor Seminary


• Harsham was accused in a lawsuit settled in April 1994 of sexual abuse of a youth 1975-1977. His accuser said the abuse occurred when he was a senior at Elder High School participating in a pre-seminary program at St. Gregory's. He said Harsham plied him with alcohol, marijuana and pornography.

OH faculty member

St. Gregory's had 87-79 students.

The man who accused Harsham, Steven Cook, also accused Archbishop Bernardin of sexual abuse. He later withdrew his complaint against Bernardin.

In 1993 Chancellor Rev. Dan Conlon said Harsham was removed from St. Gregory's because of sexual behavior with an adult seminarian.

1977 1981 St. Peter in Chains Hamilton OH 3/3 St. Peter in Chains had a school with 346-332 students
1977 1981 Badin High School


• Harsham was accused in a lawsuit filed in December 1993 of sexually assaulting a youth when he was a senior at Badin in 1981. The former student claimed Harsham repeatedly touched his genitals.

OH teacher  


Bernardin was succeeded as Cincinnati archbishop by Daniel Edward Pilarczyk (1982-2009).


June 1994 Wright State University Dayton OH campus ministry director  
1981 June 1994 St. Luke's Beavercreek OH 3/3, 2/3, 2/2

St. Luke's had a school with 346-522 students, and a religious education program with 547-466 students.

Harsham is not indexed beyond the 1994 Directory.

Harsham was placed on administrative leave by the archdiocese in June 1994. He resigned from active ministry in October of that year. His status with the archdiocese remained "administrative leave" until his laicization in 2006.

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Sources: Official Catholic Directory (Kenedy & Sons, 1969-1994).

Cook Clears Bernardin Harsham Lawsuit Says, By David E. Kepple, Dayton Daily News (Ohio), March 1, 1994
• I've led a Chaste Life, Bernardin Says, By Michael Hirsley and Jan Crawford, Chicago Tribune, November 13, 1993
• Letter Puts '77 Transfer of Harsham under Cloud, By Daniel J. Lehmann and Michael Briggs, Chicago Sun-Times, November 15, 1993
Priest Lost Post after Misconduct Allegations, By Art Golab, Chicago Sun-Times, November 17, 1993
• New Credibility Hurdle for Cook, By Jan Crawford and Lou Carlozo, Chicago Tribune, November 20, 1993
• Steven Cook's Early Years, By Tom McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times, November 21, 1993
• Three Former Students Allege Harsham Acted Lewdly, Chicago Sun-Times, November 21,1993
• New Allegation against Priest Named in Bernardin Lawsuit, Associated Press, December 18, 1993
Ohio Priest Denies Taking Teen Student to Bernardin's Quarters, By Jan Crawford, Chicago Tribune, January 16, 1994
• Judge Delays Trial in Priest Abuse Case, Legal Intelligencer, March 16, 1994
Church Settles Sexual Abuse Suit, Reuters, April 18, 1994
• Man, Church Settle Cincinnati Sex Suit, By Philip Franchine, Chicago Sun-Times, April 19, 1994
• Harsham to Stay at Wsu Pending Allegation Checks, By David E. Kepple, Dayton Daily News (Ohio), April 19, 1994
Priest Taken off Duty, By David E. Kepple and Amy Baldwin, Dayton Daily News, June 27, 1994
• Compassion' Is Key in Abuses, Church Says,  By David E. Kepple, Dayton Daily News, June 29, 1994
Harsham Resigns from Priesthood, By Cathy Mong, Dayton Daily News, October 14, 1994
• Sex Abuse Cases Not New Locally, Cincinnati Enquirer, March 16, 2002
• 14 Still Priests Despite Sex Cases, By Lynn Hulsey and Tom Beyerlein, Dayton Daily News, March 12, 2004
• Status Report on Clerics Credibly Accused of Child Abuse, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Not Dated, Cached by Google on February 7, 2006
• Victims, Church Still Trying to Pick up Pieces, By Tom Beyerlein, Dayton Daily News, April 22, 2007
National Catholic Reporter 5.18.11, By Tom Beyerlein, Dayton Daily News [Ohio], April 22, 2007
Ohio Dignity Group Removes Presider, By Zoe Ryan, National Catholic Reporter, May 18, 2011

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Harsham's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with the allegations against him, as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on November 5, 2016.


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