New lawsuit alleges sex abuse by former minister on list of credibly accused clergy

WSOC-TV [Charlotte NC]

July 9, 2021

By Allison Latos


A man who claims his minister took advantage of his family’s faith and his vulnerability by grooming — then abusing him — for years, has filed a civil lawsuit in Charlotte.

But Channel 9 anchor Allison Latos learned the law allowing him to sue is now at the center of its own court battle.

Allison has covered cases of abuse involving former clergy members in the Charlotte Diocese for years, and this lawsuit, filed Tuesday, follows the same pattern of many of those cases.

It accuses the church of moving accused ministers to different churches or parishes instead of reporting them to police.

The latest lawsuit says Al Behm was credibly accused of sexual abuse in Kentucky, and then moved to a new position as campus clergy at Western Carolina University, where he was in charge of ministering to the spiritual needs of all Catholic students.

During that time, the case traces Behm’s relationship with a boy, befriending and then grooming him at a young age before sexually abusing him and encouraging him to join Behm at Western Carolina.

The suit claims that Behm would even take the boy along on trips where Behm would attend conventions with other priests accused of sexual abuse.

In this case, the alleged abuse ended in the 1980s, but the accuser is just now filing his lawsuit because of a North Carolina law called the “Safe Child Act,” which temporarily opened a window for accusers to sue who otherwise wouldn’t be able to because of the statute of limitations.

But this new lawsuit may face challenges in court because Channel 9 has covered two other cases against the Catholic Church that judges have dismissed.

Attorney General Josh Stein is defending the Safe Child Act to the Court of Appeals.

Glenmary, where Behm worked at the time, said it has not received the lawsuit yet, but that Behm left his work there in 1993.

Channel 9 will be following whether these cases ever get to a jury.