April 04, 2006

Priest on leave after rape charge

Mercury News

By Jean Whitney
Knight Ridder

A Saratoga priest arrested in connection with the rape of a 29-year-old Oregon woman seeking spiritual guidance was put on administrative leave from Sacred Heart Parish, church officials said Monday.

The Rev. Randy Benas, 45, was arrested Thursday at the Saratoga church after Valley Medical Center's sexual assault unit alerted Sunnyvale police to a possible link.

``It's all alleged,'' said Roberta Ward, director of media relations for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose. ``Father Benas is presumed innocent until proven guilty.''

Benas will continue to be paid but is no longer assigned to a church, Ward said. He lives at the church's Saratoga campus.

``The Diocese of San Jose is committed to following its policies and will cooperate fully with the civil authorities. We offer Father Benas, his accuser and the people of Sacred Heart Parish our prayers,'' a statement from the diocese said Monday.

Posted by kshaw at April 4, 2006 12:23 PM