Fr. Joseph J. Bender

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Ordained: 1957
Status: Settled

Diocese: Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown PA

Accused in an anonymous letter to Bishop Adamec in 8/91 of abuse of a boy “approximately 100 times,” in the 1970s. Sent for evaluation. Removed 7/92; reason given publicly was “ongoing health issues.” Died 8/7/00. Named in 3 civil suits filed in 2003. At least one plaintiff was a member of St. Joe’s Little Singers, a children’s choir founded by Bender. In 5/04 the diocese paid $3.71M to settle claims by 21 people alleging abuse by 11 priests, including Bender. PA Attorney General’s 3/1/16 Grand Jury Report calls Bender a serial child predator who abused boys, ages 8-13, throughout most of his ministry. He targeted those whose parents hoped for a vocation for their sons and encouraged them to spend time with the priest. Other children called them “Benderites.” Bender would take the boys on overnight trips, insisted they sleep without underwear, then assault them. He would show anger when a child resisted. His acts against boys included kissing, fondling, masturbation and oral sex.

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