Tag: Thomas Benestad

Easton Allentown Diocese Horowitz Law

The Shocking History of Priest Abuse in Easton, Pennsylvania

Easton, Pennsylvania, located on the Delaware River across from New Jersey, is a town of about 30,000 people.  It is home to five Catholic parishes, a surprisingly large number given the small size of the town.  It is also the home of Notre Dame High School, one of the largest schools operated by the Diocese of Allentown.  The parishes and schools draw people from the surrounding Lehigh River Valley and northern New Jersey.

Easton also has the dubious distinction of being “ground zero” of the child sexual abuse crisis in the Diocese of Allentown.  The August 2018 grand jury report identified more than a dozen priests who have been assigned to the parishes of Easton throughout the history of the Diocese, which was formed in 1961.

Through our own investigation, we have identified 54 priests accused of abuse in the Diocese of Allentown – and discovered that almost half of those men were assigned to one or more parishes in Easton at some point during their career, and as recently as 2014.  Most of these 26 men appear on the Diocese of Allentown’s list of credibly accused priests.

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Bernard

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Joseph

St. Michael

Notre Dame High School

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 adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Notre Dame Allentown Horowitz Law

Notre Dame High School (Easton, PA)

Easton, Pennsylvania, is home to one of the Diocese of Allentown’s largest schools, Notre Dame High School.  Established in 1957, Notre Dame has educated countless children in Eastern Pennsylvania and even parts of New Jersey.

Notre Dame also has the dubious distinction as an assignment held by a staggeringly high number of priests accused of sexually abusing children.  The following men, most of whom appear on the Diocese of Allentown’s list of credibly accused priests, were all assigned as teachers or administrators at Notre Dame High School at some point during their careers:

Easton, a town of approximately 30,000 people, is also home to five Catholic parishes. For more information on accused priests assigned to Easton’s parishes, click here

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 adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Fr. Thomas J. Benestad (Diocese of Allentown)

Msgr. Thomas Benestad

Diocese of Allentown (Pennsylvania)

Ordained: 1970

Leaves of Absence: 1978, 2001, 2006, 2007

Retired/named Pastor Emeritus: 2009

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Bernard (Easton, PA)                1970-1973
  • Lafayette College Newman Ctr.            1970-1973
  • Notre Dame High School (Easton, PA)        1970-1973
  • St. Thomas More (Allentown, PA)            1973-1978
  • Leave of Absence                    1978
  • Holy Rosary (Reading, PA)                1978-1980
  • St. Bernard (Easton, PA)                1980-1988
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Bethlehem, PA)    1988-2001
  • Sabbatical                        2001-2002
  • St. Francis of Assisi (Allentown, PA)        2002-2005
  • Notre Dame of Bethlehem (Bethlehem, PA)    2005-2006
  • Leave of Absence                    2006-2007
  • Ascension (Boca Raton, Florida)            2007-2009

Summary of allegations against Father Thomas Benestad:

Benestad retired from ministry in 2009 and continues to reside in the Palm Beach area of Florida, where he remains active in ministry.

According to the 2018 grand jury report, in 2011, the Diocese of Allentown received a report from a man who claimed that Benestad sexually abused him from 1981 until 1983 (ages 9-11).  A police investigation of the man’s allegation led to conclusion that he was reporting credible allegations. More specifically, he reported that Benestad engaged him in forced mutual oral sex under threat of punishment during his CCD classes.  However, because the statute of limitations had expired, Benestad has never been charged in the case.

The grand jury report also mentions that other allegations have been made against Benestad, without providing any additional details as to the context of the reports (time frame, types of contact, ages of the victims, etc.).  Benestad has denied all of the allegations.

Based upon our firm’s experience with inner workings of the Catholic hierarchy, there are some definite red flags in Benestad’s assignment history that suggest he may have been the subject of multiple sexual misconduct allegations during his ministry in the Diocese of Allentown.  For example, multiple leaves of absences and sabbatical are highly unusual for a priest who has never been accused of sexual misconduct. The timing of them, followed by his transfer to South Florida to end his career, suggest that he may have been required to undergo some type of evaluation and, later, treatment.  Additional clues could be contained in his personnel file, which has never been made public, so we cannot say conclusively whether that is the case. Benestad’s personnel files would be the subject of discovery in civil litigation against the Diocese of Allentown.

The Diocese reports that it has twice requested that Benestad be laicized (formally removed from the priesthood) but its requests have been denied.

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 adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Benestad priest Boca

Priest Thomas Benestad of Boca Raton Parish Had History of Abuse Per Grand Jury Report

Monsignor Thomas Benestad assisted at Ascension Catholic Church in Boca Raton between 2007 and 2011.  Parishioners are now learning for the first time from a Grand Jury Report that Benestad was accused of child sexual abuse dating back to his tenure as a priest of the Diocese of Allentown in the 1980’s.  This alleged abuse is documented in the recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on clergy sexual abuse.  Although the District Attorney’s office found this claim “credible”, it had not been previously disclosed by the Diocese of Palm Beach pr Ascension Catholic Church to its parishioners.

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report says that the alleged victim told the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office that he was abuse by Benestad while attending religious education classes at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church in Easton, Pennsylvania. He told investigators a nun removed him from class for wearing shorts and brought him to Benestad’s office  According to the report, Benestad made the boy “get on his knees and start praying” on account of his improper attire.  Benestad then unzipped his own pants and had the boy perform oral sex on him. Benestad then performed oral sex on the child, according to the report. After the act, Benestad alleged squirted holy water into the victim’s mouth to “purify him.”  The office found the complaint “credible” but Benestad was never criminally charged due to expiration of the statute of limitations.

This alleged incident highlight the drastic need for legislative reform on civil and criminal statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse.  Too many cases are not being prosecuted because of harsh limitations deadlines.  If you were a victim or know someone who was victim of sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania, we urge you to report the crime to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office at 1-888-538-8541 to report it.

Attorney Adam Horowitz represents children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania who wish to pursue a civil lawsuit.  Our law firm also represents victims of abuse by clergy of all religious denominations in civil lawsuits. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com