Prison Chaplain Who Used Bible Parables To Manipulate, Sexually Abuse Inmate Jailed.
A former chaplain with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, James Theodore Highhouse, 50, was sentenced to 84 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for repeatedly sexually abusing an incarcerated female and lying to federal agents when confronted.
Highhouse, according to the U.S Justice department previously entered a guilty plea to five felonies on Feb. 23, 2022.
Court documents also indicated that Highhouse was employed by the BOP as a corrections worker and chaplain starting in 2016, and was assigned to work at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Dublin, a federal prison that houses female inmates in Northern California.
His sentence was handed on Wednesday in the federal court, Northern District of California. According to the report, the Judge in handing out the sentence noted his “sustained predatory behavior against traumatized and defenseless women in prison.”
“Within our corrections system, chaplains are supposed to provide hope and spiritual guidance,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “Instead, this chaplain abused his authority and betrayed the public trust.”
“The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute cases of criminal misconduct by Bureau of Prison employees and hold accountable those who fail to protect those in their custody.”
Highhouse’s job role entailed providing “spiritual guidance to incarcerated women” and also taught religious-based classes about “boundaries and self-worth”, leading worship services, and religious study.
The victim sought spiritual counsel from Highhouse and began meeting him alone in his office beginning in November 2017 after which he began abusing her from May 2018 until February 2019.
The victim’s identity was not disclosed.
According to the Department of Justice, Highhouse “used Biblical parables and the victim’s religious beliefs to manipulate and coerce her into submitting to him.”
“Highhouse did so despite receiving training on maintaining boundaries with inmates and attending yearly BOP refreshers about sexual abuse and prevention,” noted the DOJ.
“Highhouse committed sexual abuse in the chapel office, and according to evidence presented at the hearing, to keep the victim from reporting him and avoid detection, he would tell her that no one would believe her because she was an inmate and he was a chaplain.”
After the victim reported Highhouse to the authorities, the FBI FBI and the DOJ Office of the Inspector General launched an investigation into his actions.
“Specifically, on Feb 21. 2019, during a voluntary interview with federal agents, he knowingly made false statements when he denied engaging in sexual acts and sexual contact with the victim. Then, during a follow-up interview on Feb. 3, 2020, he again misled federal agents when he continued to deny engaging in such conduct.”
Highhouse pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual abuse and lying to federal agents in February.
“Today’s sentencing is possible thanks to the brave women who came forward against their abuser,” said FBI Deputy Director Abbate.
“The defendant not only abused his position to commit monstrous crimes against his victims but also tried to coerce them into silence and lied to federal agents. The FBI will continue to fight for everyone to be free from sexual violence.”
Source | justice.gov