Former Colorado state senator sexually assaulted children as a priest, report says

A Pueblo priest who served as a Colorado state senator sexually assaulted a 5-year-old girl and a high school junior before joining the statehouse, according to a report about clergy sex abuse in Colorado.

John Beno, who died in 2000, served as a Democratic state senator representing Pueblo from 1981 to 1986 and sat on multiple committees, including the joint budget committee and the education committee.

Beno is one of 40 priests named in a report published Wednesday by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The report details an 8-month investigation into clergy sex abuse in Colorado. Beno’s connection to the General Assembly was first reported by Colorado Politics.

Beno’s victims reported being abused by him in 1996 and 2005.

One woman said Beno raped her in 1961 when she was a first grader at St. Francis Xavier Parochial School in Pueblo, according to the report. She said that if she reported the rape she would be committing a mortal sin.

The woman reported the abuse in 1996, when Beno was on medical retirement from the priesthood. When confronted with the allegation, Beno said he had no recollection of sexually assaulting the girl and didn’t recognize the woman’s name, the report states.

The Pueblo diocese never reported the allegation to police, according to the report. It did, however, pay a financial settlement to the woman after corrobor...

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