Diocese of Steubenville releases list of 16 accused clergymen

STEUBENVILLE — Sixteen priests and a seminarian were “credibly accused” or admitted to sexual abuse of a minor during the past 74 years, the Diocese of Steubenville reported Wednesday.

The list does not include Monsignor Mark Froehlich, 75, who is facing a Belmont County Sheriff’s Department inquiry into an allegation that he sexually abused a minor several years ago. The diocese suspended Froehlich, who, though retired, had been helping with Masses, confessions and church functions in Belmont County.

It does include the Rev. Christopher Foxhoven, 45, who was suspended from the ministry Saturday when diocesan officials learned he had admitted to having sex with an underage girl in Athens County.

In addition to Foxhoven, the Diocesan list includes:

¯ Cletus Altermatt, deceased, suspended from the ministry in 1952.

¯ Walter Plimmer, deceased, suspended from the ministry in 1956.

¯ Harold Goshke, deceased, suspended from the ministry in 1957.

¯ Kenneth Harris, deceased, suspended from the ministry in 1963.

¯ Vincent Danko, deceased, suspended from the ministry in 1971.

¯ Michael Hellmer, deceased, suspended from the ministry in 1989.

¯ John “Jack” Holmes, deceased, suspended from the ministry in 1989.

¯ John Nadzum, deceased, suspended from the ministry in 2004.

¯ Francis Rothbauer, deceased, suspended from the ministry in 1998.

¯ Robert A. Brown, deceased.

¯ Robert F. Marrer, deceased.

¯ Elwood Bernas, suspended from the ministry in 1986.

¯ Joseph A. Martinkosky, suspended from the ministry in 1991.

¯ Anthony Jablonowski, suspended from the ministry in 2003, and dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.

¯ Joel Wright, pre-theology seminarian who never became a candidate for ordination. He was dismissed in January 2016, and convicted in July 2016.

¯ Gary Zalenski, suspended from the ministry in 2007, and dismissed from the clerical state as a result of an ecclesiastical trial in 2014.

In releasing the names, Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of the Diocese of Steubenville apologized “to the victims and to all, for the actions of those with the care of souls who have acted in these horrible ways.”

“It will help survivors of sexual abuse find the strength to come forward, and these innocent victims can begin the process of healing,” he said in a three-page release. “I pledge to do everything possible to protect our youth.”

That release, issued Wednesday morning, defines a “credible accusation” against a priest, deacon or seminarian as one which, “after a thorough investigation of review of available information, appears more likely true than not, in the judgment of the diocesan review board, and is accepted as credible by the bishop.”

Diocesan spokesman Dino Orsatti said the list will be given to prosecuting attorneys “in the counties where the alleged abuse occurred.” He said it will be updated as necessary and the information posted on the diocese’s website, www.diosteub.org.

“It is extremely sad,” Orsatti said. “I don’t know what more I can say. We’re trying to be as open as we can be. I went back to the beginning of the diocese, went through the records as carefully as I could.”

The diocese said when allegations of sexual abuse are reported after the death of the accused cleric, the information will be presented to the review board for a full investigation, but “such allegations are difficult to (investigate) to the fullest extent possible, because the accused is deceased and, therefore, it can be difficult to arrive at a decisive conclusion regarding the allegation.”

“If accusations come out and they’re considered credible, then yes,” we’ll investigate, Orsatti said. “We’re constantly looking, but we’ve reviewed our entire files dating back to 1944 and the beginning of the diocese.”

The diocese said suspected cases of abuse should be reported to local authorities and the Rev. James M. Dunfee, vicar general, at (740) 282-3631 or jdunfee@diosteub.org.

“I think we have, for the past year or so I’ve been here, tried to be as transparent as possible,” Orsatti reiterated.

The Diocese of Youngstown released a list of 34 accused priests Tuesday.

COMMENTS