Rev. John F. Bench

Summary of Case: A priest of the Pittsburgh diocese, Bench relocated to the Charleston, SC diocese in 1980. He was removed from active ministry in Dec. 1993 after he was accused of molesting a young girl. Bench admitted to the abuse. He asked to be reinstated as a priest in Florida in 2000. Bishop Baker of Charleston was going to approve the reinstatement, but changed his mind when the parents of Bench's victim complained. Bench died in Florida in 2009.

: 1964
Died: 2009


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Pittsburgh bishop was John Joseph Wright (1959-1969), followed by Vincent Martin Leonard (1969-1983)

1971 St. Henry's Pittsburgh PA 2/2 St. Henry's had a school with 748-476 students.
1971 1976 St. Edward's Blawnox PA 2/2 St. Edward's had a school with 104-63 students, and beginning in 1975, a kindergarten with 16 students.
1976 1980 St. Joseph's (German) Pittsburgh PA 1/3 St. Joseph's had a school with 396-320 students.


Charleston bishop was Ernest Leo Unterkoefler (1964-1990)

1985 Presbyterian College Clinton SC Campus Ministry  
    Clinton Rehabilitation Center Clinton SC Chaplain  
    Knights of Columbus   SC Chaplain  
      the Pee Dee SC Episcopal Vicar The Pee Dee is a region in the northeastern corner of South Carolina.
1980 1985 St. Boniface Joanna SC 1/1  
    St. Mary's Yonges Island SC    
1980 1985 Holy Spirit Laurens SC   This was a mission of St. Boniface in Joanna.
1980 1982 St. Mark's Newberry SC   This was a mission of St. Boniface in Joanna.
1985 1986 Mission Parish Pawley's Island SC   This was a mission of St. Mary's in Georgetown.
1986 1987 St. Andrew's Andrews SC   This was a mission of St. Mary's in Georgetown.
1987 1989 St. Leo the Great Andrew's SC   This was a mission of St. Mary's in Georgetown.


Unterkoefler was succeeded by David Bernard Thompson (1990-1999)

1991 St. Mary's (Our Lady of Ramsom) Georgetown SC    
1991 Dec. 1993 Holy Cross


Bench was accused in 1993 of molesting a young girl. Bench admitted to the abuse.

SC 1/1 Bench was removed from Holy Cross in Dec. 1993 due to allegations of child sexual abuse.


Robert Joseph Baker followed Thompson as Charleston bishop (1999-2007)

2002 Absent on Leave      

Bench is not indexed beyond the 2002 Directory.

In 2000 Bench asked to be reinstated in Florida. Bishop Baker was going to allow the transfer to a Florida diocese, but reconsidered after vigorous protest by the parents of Bench's victim.


Robert Eric Guglielmone replaced Baker as Charleston bishop (2009-)


      Bench died June 6, 2009 in Englewood, FL.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1965-2002)

2 Priests Accused of Sex Abuse Resign, By Bo Emerson and Keith Graham, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 30, 1993
Dallas Morning News, June 12, 2002
Secret Sins, By Tony Bartelme, Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), April 28, 2002

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Bench's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Jan. 20, 2012