|N. Plainfield Priest Leaves Amid Sex Allegations
By Chad Hemenway
May 8, 2007
North Plainfield — For the second time in less than two years, a Roman Catholic priest here has left a borough church amid allegations of clerical sexual misconduct.
Father John Giordano told parishioners during Mass at St. Luke's Church last weekend that he was retiring, effective immediately, after 40 years of service as a priest. Nearly 30 of those have been at St. Luke's. In a letter to parishioners, he cited the pressures of running a parish, and allegations of sexual misconduct of youth made against him that he said have been settled, and that he "categorically" denies.
In July 2005, the diocese removed Father John "Jack" Casey from the borough's other Roman Catholic Church, St. Joseph's, to investigate a sexual misconduct allegation made against him.
In a letter by Giordano posted for parishioners this weekend at St. Luke's and sent anonymously to the Courier News, Giordano said he was retiring from the "administration and pressure of running a parish." Contributing factors to his retirement were "allegations of sexual misconduct involving youth made against me," he wrote in the letter.
The allegations were made more than 25 years ago, and "I categorically deny them," Giordano wrote. "The allegations were handled properly according to both civil and canon law." But he wrote that the possibility that the "allegations could yet disrupt the life" of the parish contributed to his decision to retire.
No one answered calls Monday seeking comment at St. Luke's.
Joanne Ward, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Metuchen, could only say that the allegations against Giordano were reported to authorities and they were investigated by the Diocesan Review Board more than two decades ago. She said the diocese, which includes Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Warren counties, does not comment on the outcomes of the review board.
"I can say the diocese has had a long-standing policy of almost immediately referring these things to the prosecutor's office, whether it be now or 25 years ago," Ward said.
Ward said the Diocese of Metuchen has received no formal letter of resignation from Giordano, but she said she has read the letter Giordano wrote to parishioners. She did not know where the alleged sexual misconduct occurred.
In the Casey case, the accusation involved a minor from about 20 years ago, when Casey was a parochial vicar at St. Peter the Apostle parish in New Brunswick. Ward said the canonical trial involving this matter is in its early procedural stages.
Jerry McKenna, a member of St. Luke's since it was formed 35 years ago, said he and many others "thought the world of" Giordano.
"He is a fine, warm and gentle person loved by everyone in the parish community — the finest priest I've ever known, and one of the most popular," McKenna said.
McKenna said he had five children who went through the parish who loved and highly respected Giordano.
"I feel that in this country people are presumed innocent until proven guilty but priests are presumed guilty until proven innocent — something that is almost impossible for them to do," McKenna said.
Giordano's replacement has not been named, Ward said.
In a separate incident Monday, a math teacher at a diocesan high school, Cardinal McCarrick High School in South Amboy, was charged with sexual assault and official misconduct, authorities said. Kevin Burns, 24, of Parlin, allegedly had an "inappropriate relationship" with a current female student of the Augusta Street school, authorities said.
Chad Hemenway can be reached at (908) 707-3148 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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