January 24, 2006

Benham had DCFS status

Lincoln Courier


Before being convicted of sex offenses, Francis Benham became a certified child care provider for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and kept boys in his Lincoln home during weekends to provide relief for foster parents.

Benham was to be released Sunday from the Prince George's County Correctional Center in Maryland where he served 10 months in jail for sexually assaulting and abusing a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy from 1977 to 1979 while he was a priest at a Catholic church in Maryland.

DCFS personnel may not have known of Benham's criminal past because charges against Benham were not reported to police until 2004 when the 13-year-old female victim came forward

Investigators have said the Washington, D.C., archdiocese knew of the allegations in 1979 and transferred Benham to Columbus, Ohio, where he worked for two catholic churches as a non-parish minister from 1979 to 1987, when he moved to Lincoln.

Lincoln police spent about three months last year investigating local allegations of sex crimes after Deborah Denney, 45, who had a five-year business relationship with the 69-year-old former priest, told police Benham may have committed sex crimes locally, Lincoln police detective Paul Adams said today.

Posted by kshaw at January 24, 2006 07:51 AM