October 29, 2005

Priest's sentencing set in sex-abuse case

By Nancy Phillips
Inquirer Staff Writer

The Rev. James J. Behan, the only priest to be convicted in the Philadelphia grand jury investigation of sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, is to be sentenced Dec. 9, a judge ruled yesterday.

Behan, 61, pleaded guilty to sex charges in February and admitted he had repeatedly assaulted a teenager in the late 1970s, starting when the boy was 15.

Prosecutors charged Behan after successfully arguing that he had stopped the clock on the statute of limitations by leaving the state in 1980.

At a hearing yesterday, Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Dembe ruled that despite his crimes, Behan is not a "dangerous sexual predator" as defined by state law and thus will not be subjected to monitoring after serving his eventual sentence.

Dembe said she reached that conclusion after reviewing reports by two psychologists who evaluated Behan and reading letters from more than 325 supporters, including parents of children the priest had taught or ministered to over the years. In the more than two decades since Behan assaulted the boy, the judge said, "there have been no further crimes committed."

Posted by kshaw at October 29, 2005 07:26 AM