A 45-year-old Roman Catholic priest from Ohio was convicted of sexual battery after he impregnated a 17-year-old teenage girl.
Forty-five-year-old Henry Christopher Foxhoven, who was pastor of St. Mary of the Hills in Buchtel pleaded guilty to three sexual battery counts involving the teen. He was originally charged with eight.
On Tuesday, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison and will also be required to register as a sex offender.
The Zanesville Times Recorder reported:
On Oct. 26, Foxhoven and the teenager approached her parents to tell them she was two months pregnant with the priest's child.
The following day, Foxhoven spoke with Diocese of Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton and confessed to having sex with the young girl, according to a press release from the Athens County Sheriff's Office.
"The Diocese in Steubenville reported the allegations to the Athens County Sheriff's Office when they became aware of them, and have continued to cooperate with the investigation," the release reads.
Foxhoven was immediately suspended from practicing all religious services and was barred from church property by Bishop Monforton.
Court records indicate that the sexual relationship began in August and Foxhoven had sex with the minor at least eight times in the church rectory since then.
The Athens News reported on what the prosecutor in the case had to say.
Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn in arguing for the 12-year sentence for Foxhoven said the priest had “groomed” the victim for three years. Blackburn reiterated that Foxhoven had admitted to the girl's family that she was impregnated by Foxhoven in October (the three counts of sexual battery note that Foxhoven engaged in "sexual conduct" with the minor on at least three occasions since August of this year).
Blackburn, himself a Catholic, said that the victim was failed in numerous ways, including by the Diocese of Steubenville, which he said did not tell anybody in the Holy Cross church that Foxhoven had been suspended in November 2017 for a week for violating the church's child-protection decree for "inappropriate contact with a juvenile" while Foxhoven and the victim attending a wedding together.
"This child has been failed on many levels," he said. "... The church has blame in this. He (Foxhoven) has blame. She (victim) has no blame. They were supposed to protect her. And they didn't protect her."
Blackburn did note the Diocese "did the right thing" by notifying law enforcement when Foxhoven approached the victim's family about her being pregnant, but he said that "wasn't enough."
“Foxhoven’s role was to help her, he satisfied himself instead," Blackburn added. "He helped to destroy an institution, he caused harm, not only to the victim and members of the Holy Cross and Saint Mary of the Hill congregations, but members of the Catholic church worldwide.”
The outlet also reported on what the mother of the victim and the victim had to say.
The victim and her mother said Foxhoven was a family friend (the mother said she considered him her "little brother"), and the victim, who turned 17 in September, apologized for the pain that she said she believes she brought on herself, her family and Foxhoven.
The victim said she does not think Foxhoven "needed to suffer" by going to prison.
The mother said she "forgives" Foxhoven and said that he helped her family, and denied that Foxhoven had "groomed' the victim.
"I didn't just lose a priest, I lost a friend," the mother said.
While I don't think 12 years in prison and registering as a sex offender is justice by any stretch of the imagination, the fact that the RCC actually dealt with him is a good thing. A proper justice in this instance would be brought to bear from Deuteronomy 22 and would have been dealt with by the family and spared the people, including the girl and her family, the enormous cost of feeding, clothing and housing Foxhoven for the next 12 years and the subsequent costs of him reporting in every 90 days after that.
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