New Jersey Priest Arrested on Child Sex Abuse Charges
The New Jersey Clergy Abuse Task Force (CATF) has brought its first case against a Catholic priest from Phillipsburg. The 63-year old priest was recently arrested and charged with several counts of child sexual assault dating back almost three decades, according to the state Attorney General’s office.
Establishment of the New Jersey CATF
The New Jersey CATF was established on September 6, 2018, following the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which was released the previous month. The purpose of the task force is to investigate allegations of clergy abuse within New Jersey Catholic dioceses, along with any attempts to cover up those allegations. The state Attorney General explains that the CATF’s mission is to expose the truth and obtain justice for clergy abuse survivors.
An experienced sex crimes prosecutor was appointed to head the task force, oversee a team of detectives and prosecutors, and report directly to the Division of Criminal Justice Director. The task force is authorized to present evidence to a state grand jury and review the dioceses’ compliance with an existing 2002 Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) amongst the state dioceses, the Attorney General’s Office, and various County Prosecutors’ Offices. The MOU outlines policies and procedures for reporting abuse and cooperation on sexual abuse cases.
The New Jersey CATF’s First Case
In addition to the criminal task force, the state Attorney General also created a toll-free, 24/7 clergy abuse hotline dedicated to receiving reports of alleged clergy abuse. This hotline led to the task force’s first case since its establishment last year. A Phillipsburg priest was arrested on charges of child sexual abuse when the survivor used the hotline to report the alleged clergy sexual abuse. According to the office of the Attorney General, the survivor was between 14 and 17 years old at the time of the alleged sexual assault, which happened between 1990 and 1994.
The abuse allegedly occurred at Saint Cecilia Church in Woodbridge, part of the Diocese of Metuchen. The bishop of the diocese says it has never received any reports of sexual abuse or misconduct by the accused priest. Although he claims that the priest served as a chaplain at St. Luke’s Warren Campus Hospital, the spokeswoman for St. Luke’s Hospital University Health Network says he was rather one of several religious leaders whose presence was requested by patients. She notes that no prior complaints about the priest were ever received and that the organization conducted the appropriate background checks.
However, the priest confessed to the allegations and the bishop of Metuchen assures that the priest will be removed from the priesthood. The diocese shared news of the arrest with other parishes in which the priest ministered.
New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Clergy Abuse Survivors Obtain Justice
If you were abused by a clergy member, contact a New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to holding the Catholic Church accountable and obtaining financial compensation for survivors. For a free consultation, please fill out our online contact form or call us at 732-537-8570.
From our offices in Highland Park, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout the surrounding areas, including those in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.