On February 13, 2019, New Jersey Roman Catholic bishops released a list of nearly 200 priests credibly accused of sexual abuse against minors. In total, the list included 188 abusive priests. The list covers the state’s five dioceses — Camden, Trenton, Paterson, Metuchen and Newark.
The released list was part of an effort by the Catholic Church to remedy years of sexual abuse by its priests and the coverups that ensued.
“I beg your forgiveness,” implored Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, in a letter that accompanied the list. “It is our sincerest hope that this disclosure will help bring healing to those whose lives have been so deeply violated.” Cardinal Tobin acknowledged that the church “betrayed” the victims and their families.
The list includes many prominent members of the clergy. For example, the list includes former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick served as a bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen before becoming the Archbishop of Newark. He held this position from 1986 to 2000. He was accused of repeatedly engaging in acts of sexual abuse. One of the allegations claims he molested an altar boy. In 2019, Pope Francis defrocked McCarrick after the church found him guilty of sexual abuse.
Also included on the list was Reverend John Capparelli. Capparelli allegedly groped teenage boys while he was active in the ministry during the 1970s and 1980s.
List of Accused Priests Not Enough
Critics argued the release of the list didn’t do enough for victims. In a press release, the non-profit support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) noted the list did not include all the names of abusive clerics in New Jersey. SNAP also noted the list did not include the full work history for the priests named in the list. They say these omissions make it harder for parents and parishioners to identify other possible victims in the state.
Other critics noted the list did not include priests of religious orders who were ordained by local bishops. It also did not include those accused of sexually abusing people over the age of 18.
Research done by the team at AbuseLawsuit.com has produced a list with more credibly accused priests than the list released by the dioceses.
Abuses at St. Rose of Lima Church
Among those not included in the list was Monsignor George Trabold. Trabold stepped down from his role as the pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Millburn, New Jersey, after being accused of sexually abusing a minor. Attorney Greg Gianforcaro represents a man who was sexually abused by Mr. Trabold. Gianforcaro noted it was puzzling that Mr. Trabold was not included in the list given that Gianforcaro’s client received a monetary settlement.
Cardinal Tobin claimed the list was the result of an extensive review of archdiocesan records dating back to 1940. However, victims of priest abuse argued the Catholic Church was withholding secret personnel files that contained additional evidence of clergy abuse and cover-up attempts by clergy members.
Alleged Abuses at St. Mary of the Lake Church
Bruce Novozinsky alleged he was sexually abused as a teenager by Reverend Gerry Brown. Brown was a priest for St. Mary of the Lake Church in Lakewood, New Jersey. Gerard J. Brown was named on the list.
“For decades, the Catholic Church covered up an insidious culture of predatory child abuse, doing everything in its power to protect abusers and silence and intimidate victims and their families. Details of the abuse were held under lock and key in ‘secret files’ hidden from public view. It’s past time for those secret files to be made public.”
New Jersey Dioceses Create Victim Compensation Fund
Following the release of the list, the Catholic Church and the state of New Jersey are working to provide justice for the victims of clergy abuse. In June 2019, a compensation fund for victims of clergy sex abuse began accepting claims. Moreover, New Jersey lawmakers enacted a new law. The law took effect in December 2019. It extended the time limit for victims of clergy abuse to file civil lawsuits against their abusers.
Burke, D. (2018, June 20). Cardinal removed from public ministry after sex abuse allegation. CNN.
Heyboer, K., Sherman, T. (2019, February 13). N.J. Catholic dioceses release names of 188 priests and deacons accused of sexual abuse of children. NJ.com.
Koloff, A. (2019, February 16). Lists of NJ priests accused of sexual abuse have some notable omissions. NorthJersey.com.
Mueller, M. (2013, June 30). Priest-turned-teacher barred from public schools over sex abuse claims, fetish website. NJ.com.
Pinter, J. (2019, February 16). Vatican Defrocks Former Cardinal McCarrick, Finds Him Guilty Of Sex Abuse. NHPR.
SNAP. (2019, February 13). New Jersey Dioceses Release Lists of Accused Clerics [Press Release].
Yellin, D. (2019, June 19). ‘Secret’ Catholic files called key to exposing the full clergy abuse scandal. NorthJersey.com.
(2019, February 13). Read Newark Archbishop Joseph Tobin’s letter regarding clergy abuse. NorthJersey.com.