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Lexington Catholic fires teacher accused of soliciting for prostitution in West Virginia

Lexington Catholic High School officials have fired a teacher who did not disclose an arrest, the Catholic Diocese of Lexington said Saturday.

“Robert Pennington was hired by Lexington Catholic High School on August 1, 2023. During his application process, he neglected to include his tenure at Charleston West Virginia Catholic High School and did not disclose his arrest,” Edward Bauer, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Lexington, said in a statement Saturday.

Pennington was charged with soliciting for prostitution in March, Charleston television station WCHS reported.

Charleston, West Virginia Municipal Court records indicate that the next court date for Pennington’s case is scheduled for Dec. 20.

Pennington, then a teacher at Charleston Catholic High School and Blessed Sacrament Church, was suspended from his duties March 17 because of the accusation, WOWK reported.

According to a criminal complaint, WOWK said, Robert Charles Pennington gave an undercover detective money for sex.

WCHS reported the complaint said the incident happened in Kanawha County March 9, and it was the result of an “undercover prostitution operation.”

The Lexington diocese said in its statement Saturday that Pennington was “never charged with a crime” but was cited by Charleston police. Bauer did not immediately respond to requests for clarification, and Charleston police officials did not immediately comment Saturday.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston told WCHS at the time that “Mr. Pennington has been suspended from his duties at Charleston Catholic High School and Blessed Sacrament Church pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation related to adult behavior by civil authorities. As it is ongoing, neither Charleston Catholic High School nor the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston can make further comment on the investigation.”

On Lexington Catholic’s website, Bob Pennington was listed as Director of Spiritual Life/Religion Teacher.

“When this information was discovered by the Lexington Catholic High School administration, they moved swiftly to investigate the situation and terminated his employment,” Bauer said. “We regret that this situation has occurred. We want to reassure parents, students, and alumni of Lexington Catholic High School that the safety and well-being of our students is a primary concern.”