February 08, 2005

Priest pleads to felony sex charge involving student


By MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press Writer, The Associated Press February 08, 2005

A priest who taught at a Roman Catholic high school for boys pleaded guilty Tuesday to having a sexual relationship with a student in the late 1970s.

The felony plea by the Rev. James J. Behan, 61, an Oblate priest who now lives in Childs, Md., marks the first criminal plea involving priest sexual abuse in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, a prosecutor said.

Behan performed oral sex on the teenager dozens of times from 1978 to 1980 when he taught at Northeast Catholic High School, Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCartney said.

The victim, who was 15 when the abuse started, had thoughts of becoming a priest and spent considerable time with Behan, who had the trust of the boy's deeply religious family, she said.

The sex acts took place at rectories and on overnight trips, but apparently not at the high school, McCartney said.

Posted by kshaw at February 8, 2005 12:25 PM