Diocese of Steubenville Releases List of Priests Accused of Abuse

STEUBENVILLE – The Diocese of Steubenville has released this morning the names of 16 priests and a seminarian who have been credibly accused or admitted to sexual abuse of a minor and removed from active ministry.

The list dates back to the beginning of the formation of the diocese in 1944, and most of the allegations involve cases from decades ago. Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton said by releasing these names, “It will help survivors of sexual abuse find the strength to come forward and these innocent victims can begin the process of healing. I pledge to do everything possible to protect our youth.”

The list of those credibly accused was developed with the assistance of the diocese’s Child Protection Review Board and the diocesan attorney. The diocese’s Child Protection Review Board, which was established to assist the bishop in complying with the requirements of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” is comprised of mostly laypeople, including civil legal professionals, counselors and its members, who assess all allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests, seminarians and deacons in this diocese.

The list of names of priests who have served in the Diocese of Steubenville and have been credibly accused of at least one act of sexual abuse of a minor consists of:

  • Cletus Altermatt, suspended from ministry in 1952 (deceased)
  • Elwood Bernas, suspended from ministry in 1986
  • Robert A. Brown (deceased)
  • Vincent Danko, suspended from ministry in 1971 (deceased)
  • H. Christopher Foxhoven, suspended from ministry Oct. 27, 2018
  • Harold Goschke, suspended from ministry in 1957 (deceased)
  • Kenneth Harris, suspended from ministry in 1963 (deceased)
  • Michael Hellmer, suspended from ministry in 1989 (deceased)
  • John “Jack” Holmes, suspended from ministry in 1989 (deceased)
  • Anthony Jablonowski, suspended from ministry in 2003, dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006
  • Robert F. Marrer, deceased
  • Joseph A. Martinkosky, suspended from ministry in 1991
  • John Nadzam, suspended from ministry in 2004 (deceased)
  • Walter Plimmer, suspended from ministry in 1956 (deceased)
  • Francis Rothbauer, suspended from ministry in 1998 (deceased)
  • Joel Wright, pre-theology seminarian who never became a candidate for ordination dismissed as a seminarian in January 2016, convicted in July 2016.
  • Gary Zalenski, suspended from ministry in 2007, dismissed from the clerical state as a result of an ecclesiastical trial in 2014.

A retired priest who was removed from active ministry in May 2018, because of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, is not on the list because Belmont County law enforcement authorities are currently investigating the case. In May, the diocese removed Mark Froehlich, a priest who had served at several churches in Belmont County. The Belmont County Sheriff Department has said it is investigating Froehlich, although no charges have been filed.

Any religious order priests were not included, because they are under the jurisdiction of their religious order superiors.

The list of names will also be given to prosecuting attorneys in the counties where the alleged abuse occurred. The list will be updated, when necessary, and will be available on the diocese’s website, www.diosteub.org. For the purposes of this list, a “credible accusation” against a priest, deacon or seminarian of the Diocese of Steubenville is an accusation that, after a thorough investigation and review of available information, appears more likely true than not, in the judgement of the diocesan review board, and is accepted as credible by the bishop.

Bishop Monforton said, “I say to the victims and to all, for the actions of those with the care of souls who have acted in these horrible ways, as your bishop, I am very sorry.”