$4.65 Million Paid by Carmelite Order and Dallas Diocese

Turley Law Center
October 17, 2009

Six sexually abused children were recently vindicated when the Dallas Diocese and the Discalced Carmelite Friers settled with them for $4,650,000. They were all molested for years during the 1970's and 1980's by Priest Thomas Behnke, while assigned at St Mary of Carmel Catholic Church and School in the Dallas Diocese and Little Flower Catholic Church within the Oklahoma City Diocese. It was also discovered that Behnke abused victims while assigned other places including San Antonio Texas as early as 1959.

Ms. Watson commented that " The Carmelite Defendant was clearly on notice prior to this abuse that Behnke was a pedophile and failed to remove him. Additionally, the Dallas Diocese failed to investigate Behnke before placing him in the trusted position of Parish priest and allowing him to teach at the St. Mary of Carmel School. Both the Carmelites and Dallas Diocese had knowledge of Behnke having young boys spending the night and traveling the world with him and failed to act. Victims need to know that even if years have past since their abuse they still have rights." Ms. Turley stated, "While we are glad that this matter could be resolved without a trial, it is really unfortunate that these victims have been waiting since 2002 to get to resolve this case. Each lives everyday with the long term effects of sexual abuse, and is need of treatment earlier instead of later. All the experts agree that early treatment is of the greatest benefit. We hope that in the future religious organizations will step forward early and take financial responsibility for the emotional and psychological injuries resulting from sexual abuse by clerics and lay persons in a religious setting so the victims can begin the long process of healing."

Lori Watson and Linda Turley of the Turley Law Firm in Dallas, Texas represented these survivors. The Turley Law Firm also represented the victims of Rudy Kos in the 1997 trial against the Dallas Diocese. The jury verdict in that case began a flood of cases by survivors of sexual abuse. The Turley Law Firm specializes in representing sexual abuse victims and has represented sexual abuse victims of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas related to priests Rudy Kos, Patrick Lynch, Robert Peebles, Ken Roberts and Michael Flanagan. Additionally they have handled many sexual abuse cases against other church denominations, schools, day cares, and hospitals.

For more information, contact Lori Watson or Linda Turley, at the Turley Law Firm, 1 - 800- 692- 4025 or email at


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