In an attempt to achieve both accountability and transparency, the five districts that comprise the Catholic dioceses of New Jersey recently published the names of its clergymen who were suspected of church sexual abuse.
Revealing the Names of the Suspects
The published list contained the names of 188 priests and deacons who were suspected of sexual abuse. Among those on the list, most were from either the Archdiocese of Newark or the Diocese of Camden. The others were from the Camden, Trenton, Paterson, and Metuchen dioceses. The names were acquired after an extensive review of church records that date back as far as 1940. More than half of the clergymen on the list are deceased, and others have been removed from the church or otherwise sanctioned.
Although the clergymen had previously been reported to law enforcement authorities, the church still has not disclosed specific details about most of the allegations. Additionally, the names of other accused church members, including Jesuit priests and Benedictine monks, have not been released.
The recent disclosure was done voluntarily by various dioceses, although the Office of the Attorney General of New Jersey has established a task force to review the issue and whether suspected cases of abuse had been adequately investigated by the church itself.
Identifying Cases of Sexual Abuse
Some of the suspected cases of abuse that have been identified include accusations against a cardinal who formerly headed the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen. He has been accused of both sexual misconduct with priests, seminary students, and sexual abuse of children. Two other clergymen employed in the Newark district were accused of molesting boys over a period of two decades.
Despite recent actions, some critics have yet to be convinced that the church is serious about combating the problem of sexual abuse by some of its members. A legal representative of more than 50 alleged victims believes that the number of suspected abusers and the lengthy period of time over which the assaults occurred has worn-out the church when it comes to accepting responsibility. Further to the time issue, a New Jersey lawmaker has proposed eliminating the current statute of limitations in filing lawsuits.
The Rights of Victims
No matter the age of the victims, abuse by those who should be considered trustworthy is a traumatic event that can have long-term consequences. In cases of abuse by members of the clergy, both the individual perpetrators and the church itself can be liable for monetary damages. Working through the civil court system, attorneys can provide the victims and their families with the justice that they deserve.
Victims of such abuse may consider seeking damages against those deemed responsible, but they will also need proper representation to ensure they have fair treatment under the law. Victims of church sexual abuse can trust KBA Attorneys to provide professional legal services. Call us today for a free consultation.