Rev. Thomas Behnke, o.c.d. (aka Richard Thomas Behnke)
Summary of Case: Behnke was accused of sexually abusing at least six boys in several dioceses, all beginning when the boys were in about the sixth grade. There were at least two formal complaints to religious authorities, one in 1959 and another in 1963. The abuse is said to have occurred in parish rectories and on trips. Behnke organized religious retreats for boys under the age of 15 to Mexico, Japan, Ireland, Greece, and France. He lived at the Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico from the mid-1990s on, and died in Nov. 2008.
|1948||1949||Behnke is not indexed in the 1948 Directory.|
San Antonio archbisop was Robert Emmet Lucey (1941-1969)
|1950||Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Teresa||San Antonio||TX||Parish had a grade school with 409 students and a high school with 62 students.|
Dallas bishop was Joseph Patrick Lynch (1911-1954)
|1954||Mount Carmel Preparatory Seminary||Dallas||TX||Behnke is listed as "Very Rev." and as Vicar and Director 1951-1954.||Seminary had 19-33 students.|
|1954||1955||Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Little Flower||
• Accused in a 2002 lawsuit of having sexually abused a boy "for years" while at this parish. (Turley Law Center
|1963||Immaculate Heart of Mary||
• Behnke is said to have abused children in the San Antonio diocese as early as 1959. (Turley Law Center
|TX||3/3, 1/3, 1/2, 1/4|
|1955||1963||Missionary Catechists of the Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Violetas)||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1955||1963||St. Mary and St. Joseph's||Dilley||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1955||1963||St. Augustine's||Moore||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1955||1963||Our Lady of Mt. Carmel||Bigfoot||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1955||1963||Our Lady of the Lakes||Derby||TX||From 1958-1963 this parish is noted to have been attended specifically by Behnke.||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1963||1965||Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Therese||San Antonio||TX||
|Parish had a grade school with 360-334 students and a high school with 133-135 students.|
|1966||Immaculate Heart of Mary||Pearsall||TX||1/2|
|1965||1966||Missionary Catechists of the Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Violetas)||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1965||1966||St. Mary and St. Joseph's||Dilley||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1965||1966||St. Augustine's||Moore||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1965||1966||Our Lady of Mt. Carmel||Bigfoot||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1965||1966||Our Lady of the Lakes||Derby||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
Oklahoma City and Tulsa bishop was Victor Joseph Reed (1958-1971)
|1966||1968||St. Edward's||Pittsburg||OK||This was a mission of Holy Rosary in Hartshorne.|
|1969||Immaculate Heart of Mary||Pearsall||TX||
Behnke is referred to as "Very Rev."
|1968||1969||Missionary Catechists of the Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Violetas)||This was a mission center of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1968||1969||St. Joseph's||Dilley||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1968||1969||St. Augustine's||Moore||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
|1968||1969||Our Lady of Mt. Carmel||Bigfoot||TX||This was a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall.|
John Raphael Quinn replaced Reed as Oklahoma City and Tulsa bishop (1971-1977)
Oklahoma City and Tulsa split and Oklahoma City was raised to an archdiocese in Dec. 1972.
|1974||Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Therese||Oklahoma City||OK||
Behne was listed as Pastor 1972-1974
This was the Provincial House of the Discalced Carmelites, Southwestern Province.
Behnke took boys under the age of 15 during the 1960s and 1970s on spritual retreats to Mexico, Japan, Ireland, Greece, and France.
|1969||1974||Our Lady of Guadalupe||Packing Town||OK||This was a mission of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Therese in Oklahoma City.|
San Antonio archbishop was Francis James Furey (1969-1979)
|1978||Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Therese||San Antonio||TX||4/6, 3/5||
Parish had a school with 320-330 students.
Behnke is noted to be "Richard Thomas Behnke".
Dallas bishop was Thomas Ambrose Tschoepe (1969-1990)
|1984||St. Mary of Carmel||
• Behnke was accused in a 2002 lawsuit of having abused a boy from 1978-1980, while at this parish. (Dallas Morning News
|TX||1/3||Parish had a school with 333-289 students.|
|1984||1988||Cathedral-Santuario de Guadalupe||Dallas||TX||2/3, 2/2|
|1988||1989||Behnke is not indexed in the 1989 Directory.|
San Antonio archbishop was Patrick Fernandez Flores (1979-2004)
|1992||Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Therese||San Antonio||TX||7/10, 5/7, 6/8||Parish had a school with 340-343 students.|
|1992||1997||Marylake-Carmelite Novitiate||Little Rock||AR||4/5, 5/5, 5/6, 5/7||This was the novitiate of the Discalced Friars of the Province of St. Therese.|
Santa Fe archbishop was Michael Jarboe Sheehan (1993- )
|Servants of the Paraclete||Jimez Springs||NM||
Behnke is not indexed in the Directories after 1997.
He lived from the mid-1990s on at a facility for troubled priests, the Servants of the Paraclete, in Jimez Springs, NM.
He died Nov. 9, 2008
Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1949-2009 )
Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.
Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.
This assignment record collates Behnke's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.
This assignment record was last updated on Aug. 19, 2010
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