Pros­e­cu­tor: Al­tar girl in re­la­tion­ship with priest preg­nant

Cecil Whig - - RELIGION - By MARK GILLISPIE

As­so­ci­ated Press

— 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, 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

CLEVE­LAND (AP)

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.

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 outof-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.

“On Satur­day, the church did ev­ery­thing right,”

SATUR­DAY 10

Black­burn told hope they did 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.

CEL­E­BRATE RE­COV­ERY,

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at Conowingo Bap­tist Church. For ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion, call Scott at 443-907-0679 or Pas­tor Josh at 443-877-8788. Re­curs weekly.

7 p.m. at Bethel Lutheran Church, North East. “Hope and Peace” ev­ery Mon­day. Con­tact Lorri: 443-350-0909.

NARANON MEET­ING, TUES­DAY 13 TOPS,

5:30 p.m. at Rose­bank UMC, Ris­ing Sun. Non­profit weight-loss sup­port group, meets weekly. $6 monthly fee. First meet­ing free. top­srose­bank@ gmail.com.

NARANON,

the AP. “I the right

7 p.m. ev­ery Tues­day at Elk­ton United Methodist Church, 219 E. Main St., Elk­ton. A Nar-Anon adult sup­port meet­ing for those with ad­dicts in the fam­ily. Park around back. Call Terri Ray­mond at 443-466-6678 for

Mont­for­ton on Fri­day re­leased a state­ment to the AP that said: “This is a dev­as­tat­ing and heartwrench­ing 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. more. Re­curs weekly.

AD­DIC­TION RE­COV­ERY MIN­ISTRY,

7 p.m. at Bay Church, 2256 Pu­laski High­way, North East (be­hind Chef’s Kitchen). For strug­gles with ad­dic­tions of all kinds. Visit bay­chur­chon­line.org or call 410-287-7000. Re­curs weekly.

WED­NES­DAY 14 HEAL­ING HEARTS: OVER­DOSE DEATH GRIEF SUPPOR T GROUP,

6:30 to 7:30 p.m., North East UMC, 308 S. Main St., North East. Voices of Hope is part­ner­ing with Ce­cil County par­ents to of­fer com­fort to those who have lost some­one to over­dose. This group meets ev­ery other week and wel­comes all who have ex­pe­ri­enced the death of a loved one from over­dose. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Voices of Hope at voic­e­sofhope414@gmail.com or Jen­nifer Le­pore at jennle­pore72@ gmail.com.

Rev. Henry Christo­pher Fox­hoven

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