Fr. Thomas J. Bender (Diocese of Allentown)

Fr. Thomas J. Bender

Diocese of Allentown (Pennsylvania)   


Ordained: 1961

Suspended from ministry: 1988

Convicted of child molestation: 1988

Retired: 2002

Laicized (removed from priesthood): 2005

Re-arrested and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Joseph (Ashland, PA)                    1961-1962
  • St. Joseph (Girardville, PA)                    1962-1965
  • Holy Family (New Philadelphia, PA)            1965-1966
  • Marian High School    (Tamaqua, PA)            1965-1966
  • Nativity High School (Pottsville, PA)            1966-1971
  • St. Kiern (Heckscherville, PA)                1966-1970
  • St. Mary (St. Clair, PA)                    1970
  • St. John the Baptist (Pottsville, PA)            1970-1971
  • Bethlehem Catholic High School (Bethlehem, PA)    1971
  • St. Francis Orphanage (Orwigsburg, PA)            1971-1972
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel (Gordon, PA)            1972-1982
  • Most Blessed Sacrament (Bally, PA)            1982-1986
  • St. Francis of Assisi (Allentown, PA)            1986-1987
  • St. Anthony of Padua (Easton, PA)            June-July 1987
  • Regional Director, Council of Catholic Nurses        July 1987

Summary of allegations against Fr. Thomas Bender:

Bender also served on the Diocesan Tribunal from 1973-1982, the Liturgical Commission from 1983-1987, and on the Diocesan Ministry to Aging Board for a brief time following his arrest in 1987.

According to the 2018 Grand Jury Investigation, the Diocese of Allentown had actual knowledge of Bender’s sexual misconduct with children as early as 1972, when a state trooper, who was also a Catholic deacon, reported that Bender was found in a car with a male student from Nativity High School, and that neither was wearing pants.  According to the Diocese investigation, Bender admitted to misconduct with the boy but said it was the first time he had tried anything like that before. He continued in ministry unrestricted.

In 1984, the Diocese received a report from another boy that he had been molested by Bender in 1981, when he was in 7th grade.  He alleged both oral and anal sex with the priest. Bender admitted to the allegations when confronted by Diocese of Allentown officials.  The boy later filed a civil lawsuit in 1987, which led to both a civil settlement and a criminal investigation of Bender. In 1988, Bender was criminally convicted of abusing the boy after he again admitted to it.  He was given 7 years probation and ordered (by the Court, not the Diocese of Allentown) to avoid any occupations that would involve contact with children. Bender remained a priest of the Diocese of Allentown until he elected to retire in 2002.  He retired with full benefits.

In 2004, the Diocese received additional allegations against Bender, all alleging abuse in the 1960s.

In 2006, while still receiving retirement benefits from the Diocese of Allentown, Bender was arrested in Long Island, New York, after traveling to meet what he believed was a 14 year old boy for sex.  It was, instead, an undercover detective. At the time of his arrest, Bender had condoms, beer, porn, a digital camera, and a laptop computer in his possession. He was charged with attempted sexual acts and sentenced to 10 years of incarceration following a plea deal.

Pursuant to the terms of his 2014 prison release, Bender is on lifetime probation and will be required to register as a sex offender in the State of New York, despite the fact that he continues to reside in the Allentown, Pennsylvania area.

The photographs depict Bender in 1970, while assigned to Nativity High School as a teacher and guidance counselor, and more recently on his New York sex offender registration.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or today.