Former prison chaplain given a 7-year prison term for sexually assaulting a prisoner

A former prison chaplain who sexually assaulted an inmate was given a seven-year prison sentence

A former chaplain for the Federal Bureau of Prisons was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday after admitting to sexually assaulting a female inmate on many occasions and then denying it when questioned by federal officials.

James Theodore Highhouse, the chaplain, is a fifty-year-old man who, after serving his jail time, will be subject to a five-year period of supervised release.

Federal court in the Northern District of California handed down Highhouse’s punishment. He was a former chaplain at the Federal Correctional Institution Dublin in Dublin, California.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco stated, “Within our prisons system, chaplains are intended to give hope and spiritual counseling.” Instead, “this chaplain utilized his position for personal gain and broke faith with the public.”

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To those who fail to safeguard people in their custody, the Department of Justice will continue to bring criminal charges.

Highhouse is the fourth worker at FCI Dublin to be accused of sexual abuse by convicts, reports the Associated Press.

“Today’s imprisonment sends a strong message to BOP staff that abusing their position of trust will result in harsh repercussions,” stated Department of Justice Inspector General Horowitz. The mission of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General is “to identify, investigate, and prosecute instances of misconduct or abuse by BOP personnel.”

Highhouse served as the chaplain at a federal women’s prison, as reported by The Christian Post. He oversaw religious activities including worship and study as well as gave spiritual guidance.

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According to the records, Highhouse began secretly meeting with a female inmate in his office as early as November 2017. As of May 2018, he was already physically assaulting her. As of February of 2019, the abuse was still going on.

Highhouse “used Biblical parables and the victim’s religious convictions to influence her and push her into submitting to him,” despite his expertise in sexual assault and prevention.

According to testimony provided at the hearing, “Highhouse perpetrated sexual assault in the chapel office and told the victim that no one would believe her because she was a prisoner and he was a chaplain,” according to a statement released by the Department of Justice.

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After the victim reported Highhouse, the FBI and the DOJ OIG began looking into the allegations. Highhouse lied to police many times during their inquiry.

Highhouse was arrested in January and confessed to five charges of sexual assault and lying to federal authorities in February.

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