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Among the priests identified in the report on clergy abuse released Wednesday by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser: Father John Beno of Pueblo's St. Francis Xavier parish.

Beno went by another title: Democratic state senator, from 1979 to 1986.

Beno

Then state Sen. John Beno, D-Pueblo, at the Colorado legislature in the 1980s.

According to abuse allegations detailed in the report, Beno abused two young girls. One was 5 years old at the time of the rape in 1961. She reported the assault in 1996 to the Pueblo Diocese. During an investigation at the time, Beno denied even knowing her, but the diocese found "his denial is outweighed by corroborating evidence," according to the report.

The second alleged victim was 16 and a junior in high school, around 1968 or 1969 at the time of the rape. She reported it to the diocese in 2005. While Beno had passed away by then (he died in 2000), she told the diocese she had confronted Beno in the mid '80s.

"She stated that she wrote him a letter, he asked her to meet, and she arrived to find him in a room with three lawyers," the report stated. "She said he did not deny sexually abusing her at that meeting but intimidated and threatened her with eternal damnation, and she never heard from him again. We are aware of no exculpatory evidence."

In both cases, the Pueblo Diocese failed to report the rapes to the police as required by state law, according to the report.

Beno served on the Joint Budget Committee during his time in office, which was cut short, according to former Democratic state Sen. Rob Hernandez of Denver, when the church told him it wasn't appropriate for him to serve as an elected official while a priest.

Hernandez, who grew up in Pueblo, said that while he was growing up, he had taken catechism classes from Beno.

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