Prosecutor: Altar girl in relationship with priest pregnant

CLEVELAND (AP) — Authorities are investigating whether a Roman Catholic diocese in Ohio responded appropriately last November when it learned that a priest for two of its parishes had taken a now-pregnant altar girl to a wedding reception last November, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn told The Associated Press.

Blackburn's office on Tuesday charged the Rev. Henry Christopher Foxhoven with eight counts of sexual battery for his relationship with the girl, who is 17. He is being held on a $1 million bond and doesn't have an attorney.

Revelations about Foxhoven's behavior have shaken Catholics in the two small former mining towns where Foxhoven ministered, Blackburn said. The story began to unravel Oct. 26 when the 45-year-old priest and the teen told her parents she was two months pregnant. A spokesman for the Diocese of Steubenville said Foxhoven called Bishop Jeffrey Montforton the next day to tell him about the relationship.


(Rev. Henry Christopher Foxhoven. Southeast Ohio Regional Jail via AP)

Spokesman Dino Orsatti said a diocesan attorney immediately called the Athens County Sheriff's Office to report what Montforton had learned. Foxhoven was ordered to move out of his parish residence at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Glouster and to stay out of that village and Buchtel, where he was pastor at St. Mary of the Hills.

The Athens County Sheriff's Office searched the residence Monday and found used condoms and a positive pregnancy test kit.

Blackburn said his office received a call after the news broke from an out-of-town guest at last year's wedding reception who said she saw Foxhoven inappropriately touching the girl. The diocese sent a letter to Blackburn's office this week saying when it learned last November about the reception, it suspended the priest for a week and ordered him to receive counseling for "boundary issues."

The diocese did not contact authorities when it learned about the outing. Orsatti said in an email that Foxhoven denied acting inappropriately and said the teen needed a ride to the reception.

"The parents never filed a complaint and there were no complaints filed against Foxhoven," Orsatti said.

Under Ohio law, institutions such as churches, schools have a duty to report allegations of physical or sexual abuse of a minor.

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Investigation into Pennsylvania's Catholic church reveals sex abuse scandal and coverup
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: Parishioners worship during a mass to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Diocese was rocked by revelations of abuse by priests the day before on August 14, 2018.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Victims of clergy sexual abuse, or their family members react as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury report released Tuesday says that number comes from records in six Roman Catholic dioceses. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Storm clouds pass over a Roman Catholic church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Cohn
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury report released Tuesday says that number comes from records in six Roman Catholic dioceses. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
FILE – In this June 30, 2015, file photo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, speaks while outlining the schedule for Pope Francis' September 2015 visit to Washington, during a news conference at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Wuerl wrote to priests to defend himself on the eve of the scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, release of a grand jury report investigating child sexual abuse in six of Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic dioceses. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: Father Kris Stubna walks to the sanctuary following a mass to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Diocese was rocked by revelations of abuse by priests the day before on August 14, 2018.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Robert Mizic, 47, watches a press conference on the grand jury report investigating sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania at his home on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, in Turtle Creek, Pa. Mizic says he was abused by his parish priest at a Catholic Church in suburban Philadelphia 35 years ago. (Andrew Rush/Post-Gazette via AP)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Diocese was rocked by revelations of abuse by priests the day before on August 14, 2018.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Judy Deaven who says her son was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest as a boy reacts as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury report released Tuesday says that number comes from records in six Roman Catholic dioceses. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: Parishioners worship during a mass to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Diocese was rocked by revelations of abuse by priests the day before on August 14, 2018.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Former priest James Faluszczak, who says he was molested by a priest as a teenager, reacts as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury report released Tuesday says that number comes from records in six Roman Catholic dioceses. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: Father Kris Stubna speaks to parishioners during a mass to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Diocese was rocked by revelations of abuse by priests the day before on August 14, 2018.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
In this Dec. 12, 2010, photo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, greets a woman after giving a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. A landmark grand jury report released Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, faulted Wuerl, the former longtime bishop of Pittsburgh who now leads the Washington archdiocese, for what it said was his part in the concealment of clergy sexual abuse. Wuerl, one of the highest-profile cardinals in the United States, released a statement Tuesday that said he had "acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse." (Rebecca Droke/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: Parishioners leave St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Diocese was rocked by revelations of abuse by priests the day before on August 14, 2018.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: Parishioners worship during a mass to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Diocese was rocked by revelations of abuse by priests the day before on August 14, 2018.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2015, file photo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, left, looks toward the crowd with Pope Francis following a Mass outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Wuerl wrote to priests to defend himself on the eve of the scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, release of a grand jury report investigating child sexual abuse in six of Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic dioceses. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: Parishioners leave St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Diocese was rocked by revelations of abuse by priests the day before on August 14, 2018.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: Parishioners worship during a mass to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Diocese was rocked by revelations of abuse by priests the day before on August 14, 2018.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury report released Tuesday says that number comes from records in six Roman Catholic dioceses. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, at podium, speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury report released Tuesday says that number comes from records in six Roman Catholic dioceses. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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"On Saturday, the church did everything right," Blackburn told the AP. "I hope they did the right thing last year."

Foxhoven became the pastor of Holy Cross around four years ago. Blackburn said the teen served as an altar girl and was "heavily involved" in the small parish.

Blackburn's office is investigating when sexual contact between the teen and Foxhoven began. Blackburn said that if contact occurred before she turned 16, Ohio's age of consent, Foxhoven could face additional charges such as unlawful conduct with a minor or gross sexual imposition.

Blackburn said Foxhoven "groomed" the girl.

"He took her at a young age and used religion to the point where she fell in love with him," he said.

Montforton on Friday released a statement to the AP that said: "This is a devastating and heart-wrenching time for the diocese. The victim and the victim's family deserve our thoughts and prayers. The diocese is grieving over the admitted actions of Father Foxhoven."

Montforton asked that anyone with information that could assist the investigation contact authorities.

Blackburn said no one else has stepped forward to accuse Foxhoven of wrongdoing.

The diocese on Wednesday released the names of 16 priests and one seminarian it said had been credibly accused or had admitted to sexually abusing minors dating back to 1944 when the diocese was formed. Foxhoven was on the list.

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