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  Ex-Rector of Boynton Seminary Accused of Molestation Located

By Eliot Kleinberg
Palm Beach Post [Florida]
April 3, 2002

Arthur Bendixen, who like William White also left St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in disgrace over alleged sexual impropriety, has resurfaced in Chicago, where he is executive director of a major homeless program and a visiting professor at DePaul University, one of the largest Catholic Colleges in the nation.

Bendixen, rector of the suburban Boynton Beach seminary from 1991 to 1993, was suspended in February 1994, four months after the church received a sexual abuse complaint against him.

A former St. Vincent priest has said Bendixen left the seminary to return to Orlando in 1993 after three other priests quit in protest when two investigations could not prove a Miami student's claim that Bendixen had molested him. The attorney for the diocese said Bendixen insisted the incident was a misunderstanding and the student admitted as much. Bendixen maintained his innocence in several letters the diocese both before and after his 1994 resignation.

In 1995, a former altar boy sued, alleging sexual abuse between 1982 and 1994 and alleging the diocese failed to recognize signs of Bendixen's sexual activity. That case was settled, said the man's lawyer, Sheldon Stevens. He said the seven others who alleged abuse by Bendixen between 1976 and 1979, when they were between 10 and 13, all have settled with the Diocese of Orlando. Orlando-area prosecutors decided they could not press criminal charges because too much time had elapsed.

At the time the suit was filed in 1995, the Lima, Peru, native was already working at Interfaith House, a center for homeless people in Chicago. The group's Web page identifies him as Arturo Valdivia Bendixen, also a native of Lima. Stevens confirmed Tuesday they are the same person.

Numerous calls Tuesday to the center, requesting comment from supervisors, were not returned. A clerk did say Bendixen was off Tuesday. A call to a number listed for an Arthur Bendixen in nearby Evanston, Ill., got no answer.

Carol Brinati, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Orlando, said Tuesday an Orlando reporter who visited Chicago had told her some of the board members had said they were comfortable with Bendixen because he dealt only with adults. Brinati did not know if Bendixen had told his Interfaith House employers of his past. She said records managers at the diocese do not recall any recent records checks.

At DePaul University, spokeswoman Denise Mattson said Tuesday the college had only recently learned about the background of Bendixen, who she said has been a part-time adjunct professor since 1996 and teaches "spirituality and homelessness." She did not have details of the curriculum. She said Bendixen has no course this quarter but that his students are at least 24 years old and the average age is 36.

Mattson said DePaul has made no decision on Bendixen's future. But she said she's not sure if Bendixen had an obligation to disclose allegations that led to no criminal charges and a civil suit that was settled and wanted to be fair to him. But she could not say whether Bendixen had a duty to reveal he was forced out of a former job, especially one in the Catholic Church.

"Clearly within the context of what has come to light recently, we're sensitive to the issue," she said from Illinois.

eliot_kleinberg@pbpost.com

 
 

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