At Least $60M Paid to NJ Victims of Catholic Priest Sex Abuse
Catholic Church officials in New Jersey have paid tens of millions of dollars in the last three decades to men and women who have accused priests and clergy of child sexual abuse.
The exact number of victims and predators is countless because legal settlements often include confidentiality agreements and many victims may never come forward.
But a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark last week acknowledged that the five dioceses in the state have paid at least $50 million to settle sex abuse claims in the last 10 years.
Published reports for previous years accounted for another $10 million in settlements.
The admission by the archdiocese came after a Pennsylvania grand jury handed up a 900-page report detailing accusations by about 1,000 victims against 300 Catholic priests and clergy in that state. At least four of the accused priests had ties to churches in New Jersey. Other clergy were accused of sex crimes against children during trips to the Jersey Shore or elsewhere in this state.
Seton Hall University, meanwhile, this week announced it has begun investigating allegations of abuse at two seminaries by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and other priests. McCarrick served as Archbishop of Newark from the 1980s until he was appointed archbishop of Washington in 2000. The pope in June removed McCarrick from ministry after 40-year-old allegations against him surfaced.
The Newark archdiocese said two decades-old sexual misconduct allegations against McCarrick involving adults ended in a legal settlement. The archdiocese said it also was aware of a third allegation.
According to a report by NJ.com, the Diocese of Camden acknowledged settling $10 million in claims since 1990. The Diocese of Metuchen acknowledged $1.6 million in claims since 1981. The Diocese of Trenton acknowledged $9.5 million in claims since 2008. And the Diocese of Paterson has acknowledged settling $12.5 million for claims since 2003.
Diocese of Paterson
The Paterson diocese in 2005 agreed to settle litigation by 27 victims for $5 million. Most of the plaintiffs said they were abused by former St. Joseph's pastor James Hanley. Other priests and clergy also were accused.
Diocese of Camden
The Diocese of Camden in the early 1990s settled claims by 19 victims for $3.2 million. The Rev. Joseph Shannon, who directed the altar boy group at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Camden, in a deposition admitted having sex with 12-year-old boy. Another priest, John McElroy, admitted in a deposition to having sex with an 18-year-old parishioner, although the victim said the abuse began when he was 12 years old. Another group of victims claims the Rev. John Kelly of St. Gregory's and other priests groomed and molested them as boys.
In 2003, the Camden diocese also settled litigation with 23 victims for $880,000. Fifteen priests were accused of abuse.
Diocese of Metuchen
The Diocese of Metuchen in 2003 settled litigation by 10 victims from Middlesex and Hunterdon counties for $800,000. Among the accused were Monsignor Michael Cashman, of Woodbridge, who was described as a spiritual advisor to former Gov. Jim McGreevey; the Rev. John M. Banko, of Milford, who was convicted of molesting an 11-year-old altar boy; Michael Santillo, a Perth Amboy priest convicted of child molestation; and the Rev. Mark Dolak, a former pastor of St. Matthias Church in Somerset.
Archdiocese of Newark
The Newark archdiocese in 2004 admitting paying $1 million to settle allegations of child sexual abuse against nine priests. The victims were eight men and two women who raised allegations dating back decades. Five of the priests were removed from duties, but three of the accused priests were allowed to continue to work because the archdiocese claimed it had found no corroborating evidence against them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.