Retired Judge Faces Sexual Abuse Charges

By Patti Weaver
Tulsa World [Oklahoma]
May 23, 1997

Chandler — A 71-year-old retired Lincoln County judge has been charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl who was an altar server at the Catholic church where he served as a deacon, authorities said Thursday.

"It's my understanding he's been a deacon for 18 years. My information is that he resigned as a church deacon in the latter part of April," Undersheriff Chester Duncan said Thursday.

Robert L. Foster of Chandler, who was a judge for 34 years, declined to comment Thursday.

He is charged with single counts of lewd molestation and procuring the lewd exhibition of a minor, conviction of which carries up to 40 years in prison, court documents say.

Foster was a deacon this year at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Chandler, but last year he was a deacon at Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Meeker — the girl's church, the undersheriff said.

The Rev. Edward Weisenburger, a spokesman for Archbishop Eusibius Beltran of the Oklahoma City archdiocese, said Foster was a deacon from March 1979 until last April 21.

Weisenburger said Foster resigned April 21 after meeting with the archbishop concerning the allegations of sexual misconduct.

The allegations, he said, "are the first which have ever been made known to the archbishop."

"The archbishop stated that such allegations are a most serious matter and cause great concern and sadness for all parties involved."

Weisenburger said the archbishop has offered and provided pastoral care for the victim and her family.

The archbishop and his spokesman are listed as prosecution witnesses on the charge filed by Assistant District Attorney Sarah Hawxby.

Foster was county judge from 1951 until 1969, when he became an associate district judge, a post he held until his retirement in 1985. He referred calls Thursday to his attorney, Larry Lenora, who could not be reached.

Foster, a widower who lived alone, was arrested and charged May 9 with sexually abusing the girl between 11 and 11:30 p.m. April 4 while she and her 9-year-old sister were spending the night at his home.

Foster had befriended the girls' parents, who gave him permission to take both girls to a movie in Oklahoma City and to spend the night at his home in Chandler, about 20 miles from their home, an arrest affidavit by Deputy Rick McAmis said.

The girl had become an altar server at the Meeker church around Thanksgiving. She and her sister had been periodically spending the night at Foster's home since January, the undersheriff said.

The affidavit alleged that Foster molested the older girl after sending the younger girl to bed. It also alleged that Foster also tried to talk the older girl into letting him photograph her breasts.

"Foster told her that no one would find out and that he would hide the pictures in a place where no one would find them.

Mr. Foster told her that he had photographed other girls before," the affidavit alleged.

The affidavit alleged that the girl refused to allow the photography, and 10 to 15 minutes later Foster "became angry and told her to go to bed."

Lincoln County deputies searched Foster's home on May 9 and allegedly found 49 photographs of young people, but none of them appeared to be pornographic, the undersheriff said.

"According to our information, the girl told her mother (about the incidents) on April 15," 11 days after the alleged abuse, the undersheriff said. The Sheriff's Department was asked to investigate the case on April 25 by the Department of Human Services, he said.

Foster has been allowed to remain free on $ 5,000 bond pending his preliminary hearing on Aug. 5 before Special District Judge Douglas L. Combs, who is based in Pottawatomie County.


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