Ex-Priest from '80s Sex Case Charged Again
Lower Macungie Man Wanted to Have Tryst with Boy, Police Say

By Dalondo Moultrie
The Morning Call [Pennsylvania]
March 22, 2006

A former Allentown Catholic Diocese priest who has a record of sexual abuse and lives in Lower Macungie Township was charged Tuesday with trying to lure a 14-year-old boy to a Long Island hotel for sex.

Thomas J. Bender, 72, of 4015 Schoeneck Road, was caught in an Internet sting involving an undercover Nassau County, N.Y., detective, police said.

Since September 2004, Bender corresponded via the Internet with someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy but was really an undercover detective, Nassau County police said.

Bender set up a meeting with the boy for 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, and Detective John McGee arrested him, police said. They did not say where.

Police said Bender planned to take the boy to a hotel in Nassau County for sexual contact.

He is charged with five counts of attempted dissemination of indecent material to a minor and one count of attempting to commit a criminal sexual act. He is scheduled to be arraigned today in 1st District Court in Hempstead, N.Y.

In 1979, Bender met a boy while assigned to a Pottsville parish. While pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament parish in Bally during the 1980s, he molested the boy for about seven years.

In 1988, Bender pleaded guilty to molesting the boy and was given seven years' probation. The boy said the abuse started when he was 9.

The boy's family said in a lawsuit — settled out of court for an undisclosed sum — that the Allentown Diocese found out about the abuse in 1984 but didn't inform the boy's parents and didn't demote Bender from his position as pastor.

In 2004, Bender was cited in five Lehigh and Schuylkill County lawsuits as an example of the diocese's allegedly systematically covering up decades of sexual abuse by priests.

Bender is no longer in the ministry.


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