Priest from the Diocese of Steubenville to be Jailed for 12 Years, SNAP Responds
For immediate release: November 27, 2018
A priest from the Diocese of Steubenville pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual battery for grooming and impregnating a teenaged parishioner. Father Henry Christopher Foxhaven was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his crimes and will be required to register as a sex offender.
We are grateful for this sentence and for the fact that the prosecutor and the judge recognized the severity of the violation. We hope this encourages others who may have experienced, witnessed, or suspected abuse by Father Foxhaven, or others, to come forward and report to law enforcement.
However, we are troubled by the fact that the media coverage of this case constantly referred to Father Foxhaven's crimes as a "sexual relationship." The victim in this case was 14 years old when the grooming began and certainly cannot consent to a "sexual relationship" with an authority figure almost three decades her senior. Using the term "relationship" not only downplays the seriousness of the crime but also, as we saw from the reports on the sentencing hearing, will cause this young girl to blame herself for what happened. The onus should be placed squarely on the shoulders of Father Foxhaven and the Church officials who should have acted decisively to protect this child last year.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)