Sex Charges for Area Priest

Channel 6 Action News/March 31, 2004
By Cathy Gandolfo

Center City -- A Philadelphia grand jury has indicted a priest on charges of sexually abusing a former catholic high school student. The filing represents the first criminal action taken since the district attorney launched a grand jury probe nearly 2 years ago.

In April of 2002 D.A. Lynn Abraham said that a grand jury would investigate allegations of sexual abuse by catholic clergy in Philadelphia. Today the first indictment was announced.

Lynne Abraham/(D) District Attorney: "According to the presentment Began fondled and had oral sex with Donohoe as a result this contact continued over the next two years."

John Salveson/VICTIM'S ADVOCATE: "I think kids are safer as a result of this indictment my hope is that the grand jury will also focus on is indicting the hierarchy who allowed these priests to prey on kids."

Sixty-year-old father James Behan has been charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corrupting the morals of a minor. The alleged abuse took place with a student at northeast catholic high school beginning in 1978 when the boy was 15. The alleged victim, Martin Donohoe, told investigators that the abuse continued until 1980 even after behind was transferred to a parish in North Carolina.

Beth Trapani is spokesperson for the oblates of St. Francis DeSales. She addressed father Behan's transfer to North Carolina in.

Father Behan was removed from his North Carolina parish when the abuse allegations surfaced in April 2002 and he was sent to the oblates retirement facility in Maryland. That is where he has been ever since. His attorney told me father Behan will surrender to the D.A. on Friday.

Meanwhile the archdiocese of Philadelphia says it is cooperating with the ongoing investigation and will continue to do.

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