Former Magdalen chaplain arrested

Last modified: 8/31/2010 12:00:00 AM
A priest who formerly served as a chaplain at Magdalen College in Warner has been charged with sexually touching an 11-year-old girl in northern Virginia.

The Rev. Felix Owino, 44, was arrested in Fairfax County, Va., on July 7 and charged with a single count of aggravated sexual battery, the police said. He is being held without bail and is set to appear Thursday in Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, which hears cases involving crimes against children.

The court declined to say if Owino has a lawyer. The battery charge is a felony carrying one to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Owino, a family friend, was staying at the girl's home in the Herndon, Va., area last month when he engaged in inappropriate touching, according to Officer Don Gotthardt, a Fairfax County Police Department spokesman.

'The child went immediately to her mother who subsequently removed Mr. Owino from the home and told him to wait while she called police,' Gotthardt wrote yesterday in an e-mail. 'He did so.'

Owino was an associate professor at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, W.Va., from 2008 until June. He has been suspended of his priestly faculties by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, the diocese said in a news release. The university said in a release that he is not expected to return to campus.

Before going to West Virginia, Owino worked at Magdalen College, a Catholic school on Kearsarge Mountain Road in Warner with about 100 students.

Records show Owino worked at the college from June 2005 to October 2008 as a teacher and chaplain, said Rebecca Vinson, the college's comptroller, treasurer and human resources manager. A 2005 college newsletter identified Owino as the college chaplain.

Jeffrey Karls, president of Magdalen College, 'did a thorough, in-depth search' after Owino's arrest, and 'no charges were filed,' Vinson said. Karls was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Wheeling Jesuit University said there were no complaints from students about Owino's behavior during his two years at the school. Owino was a teacher and chaplain at Alvernia College, now Alvernia University, in Reading, Pa., before coming to New Hampshire.

Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, Owino was ordained in 1992 and is a member of the Religious Missionary Institute of the Apostles of Jesus, according to a biography in a Magdalen College newsletter in 2005. He earned a master's degree and doctorate in philosophy from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com.)




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