Priest Sentenced to Home Detention for Sexual Abuse

Baltimore Sun
September 25, 2010,0,3366558.story

A defrocked Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 18 months of home detention Friday for sexually abusing a 10-year-old Frederick altar boy in 1976.

A Frederick County prosecutor said the state won't pursue allegations that Thomas R. Bevan, 74, of Cascade, also molested three other children decades ago while working at another church. Two of those cases are moot due to statutory limitations and the death of an alleged victim. The third alleged victim preferred not to go to court, Assistant State's Attorney Lindell Angel said.

Bevan entered an Alford plea to one count of child abuse. In an Alford plea, the defendant doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges that the state has enough evidence to convict. Prosecutors dropped a second child-abuse count, and the judge suspended a 10-year prison term as part of the plea agreement.

Defense attorney Stephen F. Brennwald, of Washington, told Circuit Judge Richard E. Jordan that if the case involving the Frederick boy had gone to trial, defense evidence would have cast serious doubt on the allegations. He said Bevan agreed to the plea deal because it would have been hard for him to get a fair trial amid frequent news reports about Catholic priests abusing children.

"He never expected after 50 years of priesthood it would end like this," Brennwald said.

Bevan didn't address the court.

A monsignor who served in six Maryland parishes during his career, Bevan was stripped of his priestly duties after the Archdiocese of Baltimore determined in November that the allegations against him were credible. He was removed from his most recent assignment as pastor of the Church of St. Patrick in Cumberland in August 2009.

Angel said the archdiocese alerted the Frederick County sheriff's office to claims made by the victim's mother that her son had been abused when he was an altar boy at St. John the Evangelist in Frederick. Bevan was pastor there from 1974 to 1979.

The victim, now, 44, told police Bevan took him to a cabin north of town, ostensibly to help with maintenance. Then they went to a nearby house where Bevan served the boy orange juice apparently spiked with alcohol, blindfolded him and forced him to perform oral sex on him, Angel said.

The Associated Press doesn't name victims of sexual assaults.

Angel said the three other alleged victims were from Baltimore County, where Bevan was an associate pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middle River from 1963 to 1974. All the alleged abuse occurred in Frederick County, she said.

Angel said one of the allegations predated the state's child sex abuse statute. Another involved a man who has died since coming forward. The third involved a man who was satisfied to have Bevan held responsible for abusing the Frederick County victim, Angel said.

Family members of the deceased man said after Friday's hearing they were dissatisfied with the plea deal.

Under the agreement, prosecutors dropped a second count of child abuse involving the Frederick boy. Bevan will be on probation for five years, the first three supervised.

Brennwald said he will object if the state Department of Parole and Probation orders Bevan to register as a sex offender since the crime occurred nearly 20 years before Maryland's sex offender registry was created.


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