April 01, 2006

Priest suspect in sex assault

Monterey Herald

SAN JOSE (AP) - A Northern California priest remained jailed Friday for allegedly raping a 29-year-old woman he counseled over the telephone and by mail, authorities said.

The woman, who is from Oregon, told police that the Rev. Randy Benas, 45, of Sacred Heart Parish in Saratoga, raped her at a Motel 6 early Tuesday, said Lt. Marty Dale of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

The woman told authorities that she and Benas started exchanging letters and speaking on the phone about two times a time after she wrote to several priests around the country seeking spiritual guidance and Benas was the only one to respond, Dale said.

She met the priest in person for the first time late Monday when he asked her to stop in the San Francisco Bay area while she was on her way south to San Diego, according to Dale. They met at the motel in Sunnyvale.

''The victim viewed it as a counseling or mentoring relationship,'' Dale said. ''The father's insight had helped her through struggles that she was having.''

Posted by kshaw at April 1, 2006 10:19 AM