Minister Accused of Molesting 2 Boys in Ventura

Times Staff Writer

A former Ventura minister who recently resigned as church rector and dean of an Episcopal school here has been charged with seven felony counts of child molestation, authorities said.

The Rev. Robert Henry, 58, who now lives in San Luis Obispo, surrendered to authorities in Ventura Municipal Court on Tuesday and was later released on his own recognizance, said Vince O'Neill, Ventura County's chief deputy district attorney. Henry's arraignment is scheduled Nov. 9.

Henry, a well-known and respected community figure, was rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and dean of the St. Paul's Episcopal Day School from 1969 to 1987. He is charged with molesting two boys in 1984 and 1985 during private counseling sessions at the school and at the church office.

Neither Henry nor his attorney could be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

A spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles said that Henry has been informally told not to engage in priestly duties and that a formal prohibition likely will be issued within a month.

Henry, who is married and has two grown children, retired from St. Paul's and moved to San Luis Obispo in May, 1987, shortly after authorities began their investigation, Deputy Dist. Atty. Charles Campbell said.

Campbell said the allegations surfaced last year, when the parents of a 6-year-old boy told police that Henry had molested their child. Authorities subsequently found a second boy, now in ninth grade, who also said that Henry had molested him.

If tried and convicted on all counts, Henry could face up to 20 years in prison, O'Neill said. He would also be stripped of his ministerial authority if convicted, according to the Episcopal Diocese.

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