|Local Volunteer Charged with Sexual Assault
Historical Group Prez Allegedly Assaulted Female Family Member
By Jessica Smith
Sentinel [New Jersey]
April 5, 2007
The president of the Jamesburg Historical Association has been jailed on charges he sexually assaulted a female family member when she was between the ages of 3 and 7.
Ronald Becker, a former priest, was arrested March 28 at his Raintree Court home in Helmetta following a monthlong investigation that began after the alleged victim reported to police that she had been fondled by Becker on numerous occasions starting 20 years ago, according
to the Middlesex County Pro-secutor's Office.
Most of the incidents re-portedly took place at a family residence in Jamesburg. Now 26 years old, the victim resides in Florida.
"I think this was when she was ready to [come forward]," Assistant Prosecutor Andrea Carter said.
There is no statute of limitations on sexual assault cases.
Members of the Jamesburg Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit made the arrest. Becker is being detained at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick on $50,000 bail, with no option of a 10 percent bond.
Becker was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest with the Diocese of Trenton in 1973. His last parish assignment was in 1989, according to the diocese. He left the diocese under questionable circumstances.
"In 2002, based on credible complaints, Bishop Smith removed Ronald Becker's priestly faculties, meaning that he was barred from ministry, could not present himself as a priest, and was not permitted to wear priestly garb," a written statement from the diocese reported.
At the time, the statement said, the information was reported to the prosecutor's office, as well as reported in the media.
According to the diocese, the current charges have no relation to Becker's activities as a priest. Neither the victim nor her immediate family were members of a church where Becker served as a priest, according to the prosecutor's office.
Several members of the Jamesburg Historical Association, including Borough Historian Tom Bodall, declined to comment on Becker's charges.
"The position of the historical association is that his personal life and the historical association are completely separate. I think everybody really likes him, but they're not in a position to take sides," said Stephen Philpitt, Becker's attorney and second vice president of the association.
Becker has been a prominent figure in the borough largely due to his involvement in coordinating frequent programs held at Lakeview, also known as the Buckelew mansion, on Route 522.
Becker's other community involvement consist of serving as treasurer for the Jamesburg Civic Association, and being a member of the Jamesburg High School Alumni Association and Patriotic Committee.
"It came as quite a shock to everybody," said Bernie Long, the borough's zoning officer, who is also involved with various groups in town. "The man was active in a lot of things in town. It's hard to believe, because he seemed like a decent man."
Along with the victim's statement, witnesses came forward with information that helped law enforcement officials establish probable cause for the arrest, according to the prosecutor's office. The investigation is continuing, and authorities are asking that any additional victims come forward.
If convicted of the second-degree crime, Becker would face five to 10 years in prison, Carter said.
Anyone with information regarding the case can contact Investigator Daniel Ruschak of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit at (732) 745-3600, or Detective Louis Hornberger of the Jamesburg Police Department at (732) 521-0011.
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