New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse

Hundreds of children fall victim to sexual abuse each year in New Jersey. Over the years, perpetrators of these heinous crimes have included trusted clergy members.

Know the Numbers: Child Sexual Abuse in New Jersey

In just the two years from 2012 to 2014, New Jersey saw a 72 percent increase in the number of confirmed victims of child sexual abuse, according to the most recent data available.

The state substantiated 9,250 children as victims of child maltreatment in 2012. Of these children, 7 percent — or 647 — were sexually abused.

A year later, in 2013, the number of confirmed victims of child abuse or neglect rose to 9,490 — up 4.8 percent from 2012. Nine percent of the victims were sexually abused.

Nearly 25 percent more children were confirmed as child-maltreatment victims in 2014 than in 2013. Of the 11,842 children, 1,113 were victims of sexual abuse.

Child Sexual Abuse Trend in New Jersey

Year Number of Confirmed Child Abuse Victims Number of Confirmed Sexual Abuse Victims
2014 11,842 1,113
2013 9,490 854
2012 9,250 647

Sexual Crimes by Clergy in New Jersey

When the Rev. Kevin Gugliotta allegedly molested a 16-year-old boy in the mid-1980s, he was not yet an ordained Catholic priest, but a private-sector engineer and a Boy Scout leader. Because Gugliotta was a layman at the time of the alleged abuse, the Vatican decided not to punish him after learning about the allegations in 2003. Instead, the Vatican allowed Gugliotta to continue in the ministry for years without restrictions. He even served as chaplain to a youth group.

But in October 2016, the Archdiocese of Newark removed the New Jersey priest from Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church in Union. The reason: Gugliotta was arrested on 40 counts of sexual abuse of children.

Gugliotta is just one of the more than 100 priests publicly accused of sexually abusing children in New Jersey.

Victims who came forward in 2013 or earlier publicly accused at least 154 priests in New Jersey of inappropriate sexual behaviors, namely sexual abuse of boys and girls, according to a database. The following table shows the number of priests publicly accused of sexual crimes in different church districts across New Jersey.

Priests Publicly Accused in New Jersey

Location Number of priests
Dioceses of Camden 40
Diocese of Metuchen 13
Archdiocese of Newark 50
Diocese of Paterson 29
Diocese of Trenton 22

Child Sexual Abuse in New Jersey Churches and Schools

Each of the five New Jersey Catholic Church districts has had members of its clergy accused of sexually abusing children. In some instances, the dioceses permanently removed offending clergy from priesthood. In other cases, church leaders allowed accused priests to return to ministry.

Diocese of Camden

In March 2003, the Diocese of Camden agreed to settle the sexual abuse claims of 23 plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed nine years earlier in the New Jersey Superior Court in Atlantic City. At the time the lawsuit was filed, most of the claims were as much as 33-years old, and several of the clergy named in the lawsuit had died. In the end, the diocese agreed to pay $880,000 to the plaintiffs.

Then, two years later in 2005, the diocese permanently removed from ministry Father Michael H. D’Amico, a former pastor of St. Michael’s parish in Atlantic City. In April of that year, a 54-year-old man came forward with child-sexual abuse allegations against D’Amico. The man said D’Amico had sexually abused him on several occasions while D’Amico was assigned at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Westville Grove, New Jersey. Throughout his time in ministry, D’Amico served in five South Jersey parishes.

The most recent sexual abuse allegation involving the Camden diocese came to light in 2010. A man told the diocese that Father Brendan V. Sullivan abused him in 1981 when he was 14 years old. The diocese permanently removed Sullivan from ministry.

Diocese of Metuchen

Some 30 years after Msgr. Michael Cashman sexually violated two children in the 1980s, an appeals court in 2014 ruled that the New Jersey priest was guilty of “ongoing sexual abuse” and ordered he be dismissed from the priesthood. Cashman was pastor of St. James Parish in Woodbridge from 1995 until he voluntary left in 2002. Before joining St. James, Cashman also served in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in West Trenton; St. Ambrose Parish in Old Bridge; Immaculate Conception Parish in Spotswood; Our Lady of Peace Church in North Brunswick;  and Sacred Heart Parish in New Brunswick.

Also accused of sexual abuse of a minor, Msgr. Raymond L. Cole returned to ministry in the Metuchen diocese after a tribunal of three priests — not a secular court of law — heard charges against the pastor and found him not guilty. After the two-year process ended in 2015, Cole decided not to return to St. Joseph Parish as pastor, though he would remain “a priest in good standing” in the diocese, then-bishop the most Rev. Paul G. Bootkoski said in a letter to parishioners.

“While there can be neither victory nor victor in a situation such as this, the outcome of the trial means that Msgr. Cole is again a priest in good standing in the Diocese and I hope this decision will be the first step in fully restoring his reputation,” Bootkoski wrote. “True to his character, Msgr. Cole fully cooperated during the investigation of the charges against him and never displayed any animosity toward his accuser or the process.”

County prosecutors alerted the diocese to the sexual-abuse claim. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office did not pursue charges because at the time of the allegation, the criminal statute of limitations had long since passed.

Archdiocese of Newark

Between 2001 and 2015, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers permanently removed from ministry 19 priests after substantiated allegations that they sexually abused children surfaced. Two of the archdiocesan priests were convicted or pleaded guilty to criminal charges involving minors during the 9-year period. The priests resigned or were dismissed from the priesthood.

Diocese of Paterson

After a survivor of childhood sexual abuse broke his silence in 2002 about a settlement he had reached with the Diocese of Paterson, 21 men came forward with allegations of childhood sexual abuse by diocesan priests. The men, along with five of their wives, sued the diocese in 2004. They accused the diocese of being negligent in the abuse of young boys dating back to 1968.

Public scrutiny fell on Paterson Diocese officials during the height of the sex-abuse scandal in 2002. Then-Bishop Frank J. Rodimer issued an apology following published reports that he had failed to report abuse cases to law enforcement. He acknowledged his ”inadequacy” in handling some allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members and announced that he would hand over to prosecutors the names of any priest accused of sexually molesting children in the diocese over the previous four decades.

Since 2002, the diocese has removed about 10 priests from ministry and has asked church officials in Rome to defrock three of them. In one instance in 2014, the diocese removed a popular Wayne pastor from ministry for allowing a former Newark Archdiocese priest accused of sexually abusing children to attend a parish family festival.

Diocese of Trenton

Several survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of diocesan priests have sued the Diocese of Trenton over the years. A handful of the lawsuits centered on child sexual-abuse allegations against the Rev. Terence McAlinden, who served as a leader of the diocese’s youth group, among other positions. His accusers say McAlinden used alcohol, treats and the name of God to coerce them into sexual situations. The alleged abuse spanned four decades.

McAlinden admitted in a videotaped deposition to sleeping nude with boys and bathing with them naked in a hot tub. However, he was never criminally charged with sexual abuse. At one point, authorities investigated him but found too much time had passed since the alleged abuse to prosecute. The diocese suspended McAlinden from ministry in 2007. He died in 2015.

Timeline: Diocese of Trenton Child Sexual Abuse Settlements

1992: The Trenton diocese paid an undisclosed amount to a man who says he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by the Rev. Terence McAlinden between 1980 and 1985. The accuser said he was living in Point Pleasant Borough when he met McAlinden through the Diocese of Trenton’s Catholic Youth Organization. He told diocese officials of the abuse in 1989, but he was asked not to involve authorities.  The diocese later gave the man money and required he not discuss his allegations.

2011: The Trenton diocese paid $1 million to five men who said they were molested by the Rev. Ronald Becker when they were altar boys in the 1970s and 1980s.

2012: The Diocese of Trenton agreed to an undisclosed settlement with a man who says the Rev. Terence McAlinden preyed on him for a year in 1968. McAlinden was a newly ordained priest at Our Lady Of Victories Church in Sayreville at the time of the alleged abuse.

2014: The Trenton diocese paid $180,000 to a man who says the Rev. Terence McAlinden molested him more than 50 times over three years in the 1980s.

2014: The Diocese of Trenton paid $610,000 to a man who says the Rev. Terence McAlinden molested him for more than a decade in the late 1980s and 1990s.

2016: The Trenton diocese agreed to pay a six-figure settlement to a man who says he was twice abused by the Rev. Vincent Inghilterra in 1979.

Notorious New Jersey Clergy

Some members of the Catholic Church in New Jersey have garnered public attention for their alleged sexual misconduct. Accused clergy who have repeatedly been in the news include:

James T. Hanley

James T. Hanley is one of the more notorious among the Paterson diocese’s former priests. Once a pastor at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Mendham, Hanley has been accused of abusing at least 20 children. The Morris County prosecutor investigated Hanley in the 1990s but concluded most instances of abuse happened too long ago to prosecute. He was removed as a priest but never charged.

Michael Fugee

Michael Fugee, a former priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, was expelled from priesthood in 2014 for repeatedly defying a lifetime ban on ministry to children.

In 2001, Fugee admitted under police questioning that he had fondled a teenage boy. He was sentenced to five years’ probation after a jury convicted him of criminal sexual contact. However, an appellate court later overturned the ruling, citing that the trial judge gave improper instructions to jurors.

The then-Newark Archbishop John J. Myers repeatedly defended the priest and returned him to ministry. Myers named Fugee chaplain at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark. When hospital officials later learned of Fugee’s past, they demanded his removal. Fugee went on to serve as co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests.

During this time, Fugee attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors at St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck and at Holy Family Church in Nutley, despite his signing a court-sanctioned decree in 2007 that required he stay away from children. The archdiocese had agreed to ensure the terms, which also included Fugee’s undergoing counseling for sex offenders.

As a result, in May 2013, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office criminally charged Fugee with seven counts of violating a judicial order. The prosecutor’s office dropped the charges six months later on the conditions that Fugee be expelled from priesthood and remain under lifetime supervision by the prosecutor’s office, among other restrictions.

Michael “Mitch” Walters

The Archdiocese of Newark removed the Rev. Mitch Walters from ministry after he was accused of child sexual abuse. In 2016, both the archdiocese and Walters faced multiple lawsuits, alleging Walters sexually abused children when they attended a Catholic school in the 1980s.

One woman says Walters groped her on multiple occasions when she was 13 and 14 years old and attending St. Cassian’s Parish and the church’s associated school in Upper Montclair. A former altar boy at the St. Cassian’s Parish says Walters repeatedly fondled him in the church’s confessional in 1982 when he was 12.

Child Sex Abuse Resources in New Jersey

After the unthinkable happens, it may take time for you to feel ready to confront your emotions and ask for help. It’s important for you to know that whenever you are ready, you can rely on a variety of resources available to you in New Jersey.

To Report Child Sexual Abuse:

  • 911: If you believe that a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police department.
  • New Jersey State Child Abuse Hotline: All reports of child sexual abuse, including those occurring in institutional settings such as churches and schools, must be reported to the State Central Registry at 1-877-652-2873. The toll-free hotline operates 24/7.

For Health Services:

  • The Middlesex County Center for Empowerment: The Middlesex County Center for Empowerment is the state-designated sexual violence program for Middlesex County. For 40 years, the center has provided survivors of sexual violence with free services and programs, including counseling and advocacy.
  • The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault: The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault offers programs in each county in New Jersey and at the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance at Rutgers University. The programs provide a range of services to survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones, including a 24-hour confidential and anonymous crisis hotline, counseling, and accompaniment to forensic exams, police interviews and court proceedings.
  • The Metro Regional Diagnostic Treatment Center: The Metro Regional Diagnostic Treatment Center is a state-designated center that provides mental health and medical services to suspected victims of child sexual abuse and their loved ones. The center’s team comprises physicians, social workers and psychologists who are experts in the field of child maltreatment.

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View Sources

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