ATHENS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -The Diocese of Steubenville said a priest charged this week with eight counts of felony sexual battery against a minor was warned about his behavior almost a year ago in November. Dino Orsatti, spokesman for the Diocese said Christopher Foxhoven was spotted taking a teen girl to a wedding reception in his car, which is a violation of their child protection decree. Orsatti said Foxhoven went to counseling and returned to the church the next week.
This information comes as the Diocese released a list of 16 priests accused of sexual abuse on Wednesday. Among those, Father Christopher Foxhoven, who served two churches in Athens County, one in Buchtel and the other in Glouster.
Parishioners at Holy Cross Church said they were stunned by allegations that Foxhoven, 45 was in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old altar girl who is now pregnant.
“We were just all shocked, and we loved him, and we thought he was a wonderful priest,” said Kathy Hook, who has attended services at the church all her life.
Tara Spencer, who works in a local convenience store lives near the church with her three daughters.
“It’s a little scary. I will watch them a little closer now that is for sure,” said Spencer.
Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said “he started engaging in sexual relationship with her over the past several months. He has now alleged to have impregnated her and she is underage of 18.”
“Absolutely it would show a pattern of using his position of trust in the church to use religious education to involve her in church activities and gain her trust,” said Blackburn.
He groomed her, said Blackburn. “He’s brainwashed her into thinking they could have a future together, and she loves him. It is something we see in other types of sexual predator cases.”
“The fact that we trust our clergy, especially in the Catholic Church, we trust our priests. We believe they are going to be celibate and that there is no way they would harm a child and that is what he is accused of doing here,” Blackburn said.
Investigators found eight used condoms and a pregnancy test at the church residence where Foxhoven lived.
Prosecutors said they want to know what people knew about the relationship and when they knew it. Police in Glouster said they twice had traffic stops where Foxhoven was with the teen in his car after midnight and before 1 a.m.
“If you see something, say something. It’s what we need in this society. We need to stop the cycle of sexual and physical abuse that takes place against a lot of vulnerable classes,” said Blackburn.
“He did wrong. We will just have to wait and see what the court says,” Hook said.
Parishioners said there is another priest who will be conducting mass for the Holy Cross Church this weekend.