Monsignor Thomas Benestad assisted at Ascension Catholic Church in Boca Raton between 2007 and 2011. Parishioners are now learning for the first time from a Grand Jury Report that Benestad was accused of child sexual abuse dating back to his tenure as a priest of the Diocese of Allentown in the 1980’s. This alleged abuse is documented in the recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on clergy sexual abuse. Although the District Attorney’s office found this claim “credible”, it had not been previously disclosed by the Diocese of Palm Beach pr Ascension Catholic Church to its parishioners.
The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report says that the alleged victim told the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office that he was abuse by Benestad while attending religious education classes at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church in Easton, Pennsylvania. He told investigators a nun removed him from class for wearing shorts and brought him to Benestad’s office According to the report, Benestad made the boy “get on his knees and start praying” on account of his improper attire. Benestad then unzipped his own pants and had the boy perform oral sex on him. Benestad then performed oral sex on the child, according to the report. After the act, Benestad alleged squirted holy water into the victim’s mouth to “purify him.” The office found the complaint “credible” but Benestad was never criminally charged due to expiration of the statute of limitations.
This alleged incident highlight the drastic need for legislative reform on civil and criminal statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse. Too many cases are not being prosecuted because of harsh limitations deadlines. If you were a victim or know someone who was victim of sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania, we urge you to report the crime to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office at 1-888-538-8541 to report it.
Attorney Adam Horowitz represents children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania who wish to pursue a civil lawsuit. Our law firm also represents victims of abuse by clergy of all religious denominations in civil lawsuits. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz at [email protected]