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Henry Christopher Foxhoven (photo via Southeast Ohio Regional Jail)

Priest charged with sexual battery may have groomed minor, not been appropriately punished by Steubenville diocese

Authorities are concerned whether or not a Catholic priest charged last week with eight counts of sexual battery was appropriately punished last November by the Diocese of Steubenville after he took a now-pregnant 17-year-old to a wedding, according to The Associated Press. 

Henry Christopher Foxhoven, 45, of Glouster, was suspended from the ministry on Oct. 27, Bishop Jeffrey Monforton said in a Diocese of Steubenville news release. Foxhoven was charged on Oct. 30

The Athens County Prosecutor's Office received a call from an out-of-town wedding guest at the reception last year who said she witnessed Foxhoven inappropriately touching the girl, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“The case remains under investigation,” Blackburn said. “It’s possible additional charges could be presented to a grand jury.” 

The Diocese of Steubenville sent a letter to Blackburn’s office this past week that said when it learned in November 2017 about the wedding incident, it suspended Foxhoven for a week and ordered the priest to receive counseling for boundary issues.

Part of the state’s allegations is that Foxhoven groomed the minor for approximately four years in preparation for the sexual encounter that occurred, Blackburn said in an interview with The Associated Press. 

“They pretend to care about and show the victim they really like them by give them gifts, singling them out as a special person,” said Judy Block Jones, Midwest regional leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.  “What they’re doing is getting the victim to answer to them, … to trust them.”

SNAP encourages those who have been abused to come forward to authorities or call SNAP at 1-877-762-7432.

Foxhoven is scheduled to appear in Athens Municipal Court on Nov. 26.


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