Ex-Priest Pleads Guilty in Child Sex Case
A Former Priest Who Molested a Pennsylvania Teenager in the 1980s Has Pleaded Guilty to a Federal Charge of Enticing a Minor for Sex on Long Island

Associated Press, carried in NEPA News [Pennsylvania]
March 1, 2007

The federal charge was filed after Thomas Bender, 73, sought to withdraw a guilty plea last summer on state charges of attempting to disseminate indecent material to a minor, attempted criminal sex act and attempted child endangerment.

However, Bender on Wednesday admitted in U.S. District Court to having Internet "chats" with someone he thought was 14 with the intent of meeting him for sex. The person turned out to be a Nassau County police detective.

Last year, Bender, of Macungie, Pa., sought to withdraw his guilty plea in the case, citing an appeals court ruling that dismissed a Westchester County indictment against a Manhattan lawyer accused of disseminating indecent material to a minor. The ruling found that because the lawyer's Internet communications with someone he believed to be a minor contained no visual "sexual images," the indictment must be dismissed.

Following his attempt to avoid state prosecution, federal charges were filed against Bender and the state charges were dropped. He faces up to five years in prison for the charge he pleaded guilty to on Wednesday.

Bender, who served as pastor at Most Blessed Sacrament in Bally, Pa., was sentenced in 1988 to seven years probation for molesting a teenage boy. He was arrested on Long Island in March on the new charge.


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