Father Benedict Van Der Putten
Diocese of Scranton
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Benedict Van Der Putten:
Father Benedict van der Putten was a member of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, a schismatic order that is not recognized by Roman Catholic Church. He was a retreat master at St. Aloysius Retreat House in Los Gatos, California, from 1995 to 2000. While in Los Gatos, California, around 2000, van der Putten is accused of engaging in “indecent acts” with a 15-year-old girl, and attempting the same with another girl, age 17.
He was immediately sent to the International Headquarters for the Society of St. Pius X in Switzerland and was sent on a sabbatical to the island monastery in Orkney Islands of Scotland. He was later expelled from the Society.
In 2001, he became a member of the Society of Saint John, comprised almost entirely of priests leaving the Society of St. Pius X to seek reinstatement with the Roman Catholic Church. He ultimately sought to be incardinated into the Diocese of Scranton as a Roman Catholic priest, and developed relationships with high-level Chancery officials.
The Diocese of Scranton was ultimately satisfied that van der Putten would make a good addition to its clergy roster and sought a correction of his Canonical status with Rome. When Bishop James Timlin sent the paperwork to Rome for van der Putten to be “regularized” with the Diocese of Scranton, Rome reported the sexual abuse allegation made by the Society of St. Pius X.
According to media reports, in 2002, van der Putten was interviewed by Timlin and other Diocesan administrators. Van der Putten admitted involvement with a 16-year-old girl. He advised he kissed her and caressed her breast. He also exposed his genitalia. Van der Putten claimed there was “nothing erotic” about the encounter, and insisted it was merely his attempt “to build trust” between himself and the child.
Timlin sent van der Putten for evaluation at the Southdown Institute in Ontario, a notorious facility treating pedophile priests. Upon his admission, he admitted to recently fondling a young woman he met while on Christmas vacation in 2001. The Southdown Institute ultimately found that van der Putten had “predatory behavior.”
Despite Severed Ties, van der Putten Continues Ministry
In 2002, the Diocese received a call from a woman, who reported van der Putten molested her 18-year-old daughter in December 2001. This woman tracked van der Putten to Sacramento, California where he was giving liturgy.
The Diocese noted in a report documenting the woman’s complaint that van der Putten had a “Celebret” from the Congregation in Rome, Ecclesiae Dei, which provided him, with legitimacy, to engage in liturgy.
In 2002, Timlin advised van der Putten he would not be given faculties with the Diocese of Scranton. In December 2003, a memorandum went out to all bishops by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office of the General Secretary advising that van der Putten was a former member of the Society of St. Pius X and that he did not have faculties in the Diocese of Scranton due to admitted sexual misconduct.
For some time, Van der Putten used a website to advertise his availability for conferences, retreats and youth camps while claiming he is a priest in good standing, which he was not. He was also asking for Mass stipends.
Van der Putten, who now goes by “Ben Vanderputten” is believed to be residing in Shawnee, Oklahoma. According to his Facebook page, he is now raising several children as a single father, including several girls.
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Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Scranton. 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 Scranton now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims, but filing deadlines apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania and nationwide. We can help.
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