Athens County priest charged after admitting to relationship with now pregnant 17-year-old


ATHENS COUNTY – An Athens County priest is facing charges after his diocese said he admitted to having a relationship with a now pregnant 17-year-old girl.

Father Christopher Foxhoven was the pastor at Holy Cross and St. Mary of the Hill parishes in the Diocese of Steubenville.

According to the Athens County prosecutor, the teen was an altar girl at Holy Cross in Glouster. Both Foxhoven and the girl told her parents that she was pregnant.

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The prosecutor added that the conduct happened on church property, but not inside the church itself.

Foxhoven is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with the girl between August 17 and October 25, 2018, according to the sheriff’s office. The prosecutor said their relationship lasted three years.

The Diocese in Steubenville reported the allegations to the Athens County Sheriff’s Office when they became aware of them on October 27.

Foxhoven was immediately suspended from practicing all religious services and was barred from church property. A spokesman for the diocese said Canon Law prohibits anything but a suspension by the diocese at that time.

On October 29, a search warrant was conducted at Foxhoven’s residence. Evidence of criminal activity, such as several used condoms and a used pregnancy test with a positive indication were found.

During a court appearance Tuesday, Foxhoven was charged with eight counts of sexual battery. The state requested a $1 million bond. He is scheduled to appear for a review hearing on November 26.

Foxhoven was ordained in 2004 and previously worked in St. Clairsville and Wintersville. They reported no other issues with the priest in the past.

Anyone with additional information pertinent to this case, is urged to contact Detective Ryan Gillette with the Athens County Sheriff’s Office at (740) 593-6633.

Statement from SNAP's Executive Director, Zach Hiner:

"We're glad that the Diocese of Steubenville has removed Fr. Foxhaven from ministry, but this is only the first step towards making things right. First, Bishop Monforton should aggressively reach out to parishioners with his diocese, especially those at parishes where Fr. Foxhaven spent time, and urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered abuse to come forward and make a report to authorities. Next, the Bishop should urge Ohio's attorney general to immediately open an independent investigation into not only his diocese, but all those throughout the state, and help expose the depth of clergy sex crimes and cover-ups in Ohio. By openly asking for an investigation and then allowing independent law enforcement officials to do their jobs, Bishop Monforton can show that he is as committed to both the truth and the prevention of future cases of abuse as he says he is."

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