Boca Raton Priest Named In Pennsylvania Church Sex Abuse Report


BOCA RATON, FL ( — Monsignor Thomas Benestad, a retired priest now living in Boca Raton, allegedly abused at least one boy in his Pennsylvania parish, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s report.

Benestasd allegedly required a boy to perform oral sex, then used “holy water” to later cleanse the boy’s mouth.

Benestad, according to the report and independent reporting by the Sun Sentinel, assisted at Ascenision Catholic Church in Boca between 2007 and 2011. The alleged incidents took place in Pennsylvania in the early 1980s.

From the report:

Records including e-mail exchanges between the victim and the Diocese of Allentown indicate that, in 2011, a known victim reported to the Diocese that Monsignor Thomas J. Benestad sexually abused him from 1981 through 1983. The victim was nine years old when the abuse began. Correspondence demonstrated that the Diocese reported the allegation to the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office, which conducted an investigation and found the victim’s allegations to be credible.

In a statement to Northampton County Detectives, the victim said that his first memory of abuse happened while he attended CCD class at St. Bernard’s, where Benestad was assigned. The victim was taken out of class by a nun and delivered to Benestad in his office. The victim had worn shorts to CCD, which was against the rules. The victim was told that shorts were not proper attire and that not wearing proper attire was sinful. The victim was told to get on his knees and start praying. Benestad unzipped his pants and told the victim to perform oral sex on him. The victim did as he was told. Benestad also performed oral sex on the victim. The victim recalls that, after the abuse, Benestad would produce a clear bottle of holy water and squirt it…

Public records show that Benestead lives on Ocean Blvd. in Boca Raton. His condominium is valued at $302,000.

Read and download the complete Pennsylvania Attorney General report here.


Paul Saperstein


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