Police Nab Ex-Priest in Child Sex Case

By Zachary R. Dowdy
Newsday [Long Island NY]
March 22, 2006

A former priest who traveled from his Pennsylvania home with hopes of meeting a 14-year-old boy for sex at a local hotel, left police headquarters in Mineola, this morning, and headed to court for his arraignment.

Thomas J. Bender, 72, of Macungie, Pa., was charged with five counts of disseminating indecent material to a minor and one count of an attempted criminal sexual act. He will be arraigned today in First District Court in Hempstead on the charges, Nassau detectives said last night.

Crimes Against Property Squad detectives reported that Bender had been communicating over the Internet with someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy since September 2004, and that he came to Nassau yesterday to meet the boy to take him to a local hotel for sex.

Ex-priest Thomas J. Bender, 72, of Macungie, Pa.leaves police headquarters to be arraigned on Wednesday, March 22, 2006 in Mineola. Bender was arrested by Nassau County police, where he traveled from his Pennsylvania home with hopes of meeting a 14-year-old boy for sex at a local hotel.
Photo by the Newsday / Howard Schnapp

That's when Det. John McGee arrested Bender. He has been in custody since about 4:15 p.m. yesterday and was being held overnight without bail.

Officers said Bender had been a priest but did not release information about where he served.

According to news reports of a sex abuse scandal in the Allentown Roman Catholic Diocese in Pennsylvania, a Rev. Thomas Bender, once pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Parish in Bally, Pa., served 7 years' probation starting in 1988 for molesting a Pottsville, Pa., teenager for several years.

The altar boy and his family settled the case with the diocese out of court. Bender pleaded guilty to indecent assault and corruption of minors charges, according to The Morning Call in Allentown. Under the terms of his probation, Bender could not have contact with children.

Bender admitted abusing the boy in 1988 during his criminal case, news reports said.


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