Unlicensed Psychologist Also Faces Offender Registration Charge

By Nathan Woodside
State Journal-Register
October 22, 2012

LINCOLN — A man recently disciplined by the state of Illinois for unlicensed practice of clinical psychology is a former priest who also faces a criminal charge of failure to register as a sex offender.

Francis A. Benham, 74, was released from a Maryland jail in early 2006 after being convicted of sex crimes against children while serving as a priest there in the 1970s.

Benham then moved back to Lincoln, where he had lived from 1987 until 2004, after leaving the priesthood. During that time, Benham worked as a counselor for convicted sex offenders at Tazwood Mental Health Center in Pekin.

He was arrested again in February by Lincoln police on a charge of failure to register as a sex offender.

Benham was freed after posting 10 percent of a $5,000 bond. He is scheduled for a jury trial next month. If convicted, he could be sentenced to two and five years in prison.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation recently ordered Benham to stop the unlicensed practice of clinical psychology.

Benham had had business cards printed on which he used the title "Dr." and claimed to provide "psychotherapy services," according to the department. Benham has no doctorate in psychology or a state license as a licensed clinical psychologist. However, he provided psychotherapy services to a client and advertised in a local telephone directory as a psychotherapist, state documents say.


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