2 More Priests Accused

By Thomasi McDonald
News and Observer [Raleigh, NC]
April 18, 2002

Two more members of North Carolina's Catholic clergy have been accused of child sexual abuse, and the Raleigh diocese is investigating three more complaints, church authorities reported.

The Rev. James J. Behan, 58, has been relieved of his duties as pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church in Wilmington after allegations by a man who said he was abused by Behan almost 25 years ago, Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of the Raleigh diocese announced in a statement Wednesday night.

Behan, who also has served in Durham and Chapel Hill, has been pastor of Immaculate Conception since 1993, according to the statement. Diocesan officials spoke with the Wilmington pastor about the allegation, and he was placed on administrative leave, according to the statement.

After an investigation, an advisory board will make a recommendation to the bishop.

The Raleigh diocese also is investigating three additional complaints of alleged incidents dating back more than 25 years, according to the statement.

"Allegations of this nature are to be taken seriously," Gossman said in the statement.

Behan came to North Carolina in August 1980 and was assigned to the UNC-Chapel Hill Newman Center. He served as pastor of Holy Infant Parish in Durham from April 1981 to June 1992 and then was assigned as associate pastor of St. Paul Parish in New Bern for one year, according to the statement. He was then named pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish.

One day before Behan was placed on leave, the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte announced that a priest has been accused of sexually abusing a minor nearly 20 years ago while he serving within the diocese. The diocese reported Tuesday the allegation against the unidentified priest, who is now working outside the diocese.

The allegations in Wilmington and Charlotte are the latest within the Catholic Church in North Carolina. The Rev. Jim O'Neill of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic in Greensboro was relieved of his duties last weekend. The Raleigh diocese last week removed the Rev. Francis Perry from parishes in Duplin and Pender counties.


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