Paterson Diocese Settles with Accuser

By Maya Kremen [Paterson NJ]
January 16, 2007

A Catholic priest, transferred to a Dover parish after being accused of molesting two Passaic schoolchildren almost 30 years ago, has been accused of molesting another boy in Dover a few years after his move, a church spokeswoman said Monday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson paid a settlement in September to the alleged victim of Monsignor Ronald J. Tully, former pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Dover, according to the spokeswoman.

The victim, now 37, claims Tully molested him six times from 1983 to 1984, touching his genitals and performing oral sex on him on one occasion in the church's rectory, said his lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian of Boston.

At the age of 14, the Massachusetts boy had been brought to visit Tully by two Boston priests, Garabedian said. Tully promised the boy gifts, he said. On one occasion, Tully became irate when the boy refused to give him oral sex, said Garabedian.

"He made a realization recently," Garabedian said of his client, "and felt as though he should come forward to gain some sort of relief emotionally. He wanted a weight to be taken off his shoulders."

Tully could not be reached for comment. Diocesan spokeswoman Marianna Thompson said he denied and continues to deny all accusations against him.

Thompson would not specify the settlement except to say it was for less than $250,000.

Tully, former director of the now-closed Pope Pius XII Regional High School in Passaic, had been arrested in 1979 in Riverhead, N.Y., on charges that he sexually abused two male students from the school at a summer home there. He was freed under a program that allows first-time offenders to avoid criminal prosecution if they keep a clean record or agree to community service or treatment. The record was sealed by the court at the time, and the diocese paid settlements to each of the two alleged victims, Thompson said.

Church leaders decided to keep Tully in ministry, transferring him to Dover in western Morris County in the early 1980s, because the charges against him were dismissed, she said.

"To their mind, it had already been dealt with," Thompson said. "It was adjudicated by a New York court."

Tully resigned from Sacred Heart in 2004. He receives a stipend, but has since been forbidden by the diocese to practice as a priest. A church trial will determine whether he will be defrocked.

Tully was among 50 North Jersey Catholics to receive papal honors for devotion to the faith in 1998.



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