Priest Showed 'Questionable Behavior,' Diocese Says
A Priest Facing Sex Charges Received Counseling While Working for Holy Family Catholic Church in Sparta, a Church Official Says
Grand Rapid Press (Michigan)
May 27, 2004
After asserting on Tuesday that it knew of no prior allegations against a visiting priest charged with a sex crime, the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids on Wednesday acknowledged it put the priest in counseling for "questionable behavior" during his three-year tenure.
A statement released by the diocese Wednesday also acknowledged more could have been done by the diocese before admitting the Rev. Shauman Beas for temporary assignments here, which included Holy Family Catholic Church in Sparta for six months in 2001.
Beas, a native of Pakistan, is in jail after being arrested by the state investigators as part of a sting aimed at suspected sexual predators. Police say Beas arranged over the Internet to meet and have sex with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the multiple felony charges.
After a diocese spokeswoman said Tuesday it received no allegations against Beas, the Rev. William Duncan issued the statement saying the diocese could have done better.
"In a first review of our records, it appears there could have been a more effective process of admitting (Beas), a Pakistani nationalist, into the diocese for temporary assignment," said Duncan, vicar general and top administrator within the diocese since the death this month of Bishop Kevin Britt.
"During his time here, there were indications of questionable behavior involving Father Beas," Duncan added.
"He was sent for an evaluation and counseling program for issues that appeared rooted in cultural and relational differences," Duncan said. "He cooperated fully."
Spokeswoman Mary Haarman said the diocese is encouraging anyone with information about Beas to contact Duncan or Ionia County prosecutors. At the time of his arrest Beas was working as an associate pastor at St. Patrick's Church in Portland in Ionia County..
"We just wanted to encourage people to contact law enforcement authorities if they had any information," Haarman said. She would not elaborate on the "questionable behavior" or cultural concerns.
Beas, who was ordained 10 years ago in Faisalabad, Pakistan, was arraigned Tuesday on eight felony counts. He is charged with child sexually abusive activity, using a computer to commit a crime, using a computer to distribute obscene material, and using a computer to communicate with another to commit a crime. He is being held on $5 million bond in Macomb County Jail.
Police said Beas drove 110 miles from Ionia County to Warren for the sexual encounter he had arranged. The sting, part of Internet investigations by the state Attorney General's office, also resulted in the arrest of an Oakland County man who is registered as a sex offender in Michigan and Arizona.
Investigators say they maintained contact with Beas for six days before he was arrested.
They went into chat rooms and engaged in online conversations with those wishing to talk to teen girls.
Police said Beas initiated sexual context and became sexually aggressive with the investigators, sending pictures via a Web camera.
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