L.I. Priest to Be Sentenced in Teen Sex Case

May 15, 2008

NEW YORK — The sentencing of a defrocked Roman Catholic priest who admitting driving to what he thought would be a tryst with a teenage boy is expected in a Long Island court Thursday.

Thomas Bender, who faces at least five years in prison, was to be sentenced the day Pope Benedict XVI arrived in New York for his first official visit. That sentencing was postponed, but court officials said it had nothing to do with the pontiff's visit.

Bender, 74, who received probation in the 1980s for molesting a Pennsylvania boy, pleaded guilty last year to a federal charge of enticing a minor for sex.

Prosecutors said he drove from his home in Macungie, Pa., to a pizzeria in Levittown, Long Island, for what he thought would be a sex tryst with an underage boy. He also faces sentencing in Nassau County on state charges related to the incident.

The Bender case had no direct ties to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre.

But a 2003 Suffolk County grand jury report cited abuse cases involving 23 priests over several decades in the Long Island church, the sixth-largest diocese in the country. None of those cases was prosecuted because statutes of limitations had expired.


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