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| Chaffin Luhana LLP

The New Jersey Catholic dioceses recently released the names of 188 priests and deacons credibly accused of child sexual abuse. The release comes after Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal established a task force on September 6, 2018, to investigate allegations of sexual abuse within the state’s dioceses, as well as any efforts to cover up that abuse.

Advocates for victims say the list does not do enough to right the wrongs the church has committed over the past several decades. Mark Crawford, head of the New Jersey chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), noted that the lists do not reveal when the church learned of the allegations.

State Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), who has pushed to eliminate New Jersey’s statute of limitations on civil lawsuits involving child sex abuse perpetrated by clergy, stated that the list was long overdue, but questioned whether it was complete.

Lists Seen as a Result of Pressure from the New Jersey Task Force

Back in September, Attorney General Grewal appointed Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino to head the task force looking into allegations of sexual abuse. Laurino’s job was to oversee a team of detectives and prosecutors from across the state. Grewal authorized the task force to present the evidence they found to a state grand jury.

“I am pleased to see that our task force’s grand jury investigation has prompted the dioceses to finally take some measures to hold predator priests accountable,” Grewal wrote in a statement. He added that while this first step was positive, he hoped the “spirit of openness” would continue throughout the course of the investigation.

The creation of the task force followed the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report in August 2018, it reported on activities of about 300 predator priests and at least 1,000 alleged child victims of Catholic clergy abuse. That report also detailed how the church regularly covered up these crimes and protected the abusers, continuing to provide them with money and assisting them with living arrangements even after learning of allegations against them.

Some Priests Accused of Abusing Multiple Victims

New Jersey has a total of five dioceses, and they all released their own lists of Catholic Church clergy credibly accused of abuse. There was one priest listed on both the Newark and Paterson lists. The numbers were as follows:

  • Newark (63)
  • Camden (57)
  • Trenton (30)
  • Paterson (28)
  • Metuchen (11)

The names come from records dating back to 1940, and all but about 79 of the individuals have passed away. Eight of the living priests, who were all accused of having abused more than one person, have been defrocked. None remain in the ministry, and all have been reported to law enforcement, according to Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Newark Archdiocese.

The most recognizable name on the list was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the highest-ranking American Catholic official to have been removed from the ministry. He resigned in 2018. One of the other priests—Rev. Gerald Sudol—just recently stepped down last year, after having been accused of abusing multiple victims.

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