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.

Ordained: 1948

   

Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes
1948 1949       Behnke is not indexed in the 1948 Directory.

1949

San Antonio archbisop was Robert Emmet Lucey (1941-1969)

1950 Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Teresa San Antonio TX

6/8

Parish had a grade school with 409 students and a high school with 62 students.

1950

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

Oklahoma City

Accused in a 2002 lawsuit of having sexually abused a boy "for years" while at this parish. (Turley Law Center
October 17, 2009)

OK 7/8  

1955

 

1963 Immaculate Heart of Mary

Pearsall

Behnke is said to have abused children in the San Antonio diocese as early as 1959. (Turley Law Center
October 17, 2009) There was a formal complaint from a boy in 1959 to religious authorities and one from 1963. (Latin American Herald Tribune Oct. 23, 2009)

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

3/6, 3/7

Parochial Vicar

Parish had a grade school with 360-334 students and a high school with 133-135 students.

1965

 

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.

1966

Oklahoma City and Tulsa bishop was Victor Joseph Reed (1958-1971)

1968 Holy Rosary Harthorne OK 1/1  
1966 1968 St. Edward's Pittsburg OK   This was a mission of Holy Rosary in Hartshorne.

1968

 

1969 Immaculate Heart of Mary Pearsall TX

1/2

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.

1969

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

3/6, 3/5

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.

1974

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".

1978

Dallas bishop was Thomas Ambrose Tschoepe (1969-1990)

1984 St. Mary of Carmel

Dallas

Behnke was accused in a 2002 lawsuit of having abused a boy from 1978-1980, while at this parish. (Dallas Morning News
May 18, 2003) There were at least four other accusers, all of whom were boys, and who were said to have been abused beginning when they were in about the sixth grade. The abuse is said to have occurred at St. Mary's rectory and on trips. (The Dallas Morning News
October 17, 2009)

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.

1989

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.

1997

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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