Trust Betrayed

By Lawrence Hardy

The boys knew the routine.

Before they could go to the rest room, teacher Stephanie Davis would send one of them in to check it out. If the rest room was clear -- that is, if the school counselor they called "Dr. James" wasn't there -- they were allowed to go inside.

Davis, a fourth-grade teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis, had been suspicious of James Beine for months. She was concerned about the way Beine, a former Catholic priest, tickled the boys and taught them to tickle him. She noticed that he would counsel students in the corners of vacant classrooms, the doors always closed. She questioned his habit of taking the boys to the bathroom -- as if it were his special job -- and standing beside them while they used the urinals.

"He told me that he needed to go to the bathroom with all the boys in the school," Davis recalled, "and that they should just grow up."

It would come out later that Beine, 61, had been a target in eight civil suits alleging sexual abuse while he was a priest in St. Louis. At least two of those suits were settled in the late 1970s, and Beine was quietly dismissed from the priesthood. But that didn't keep him from working in the public schools. 

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