Millstone Priest "Temporarily Removed" Because of 1970s Sex Abuse Allegation
By Mike Deak
My Central Jersey
October 29, 2013
Monsignor Raymond Cole has been temporarily removed as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in response to an allegation that he sexually abused a minor at St. Mary Parish in South Amboy, where he was associate pastor in the late 1970s.
Law enforcement authorities have declined to pursue charges because the statute of limitations had expired, but Cole is expected to face a canonical trial, according to Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski of the Diocese of Metuchen.
Cole, who formerly served as executive director of the diocese Department of Pastoral Life, has “steadfastly” denied the charge, Bootkoski wrote in a letter to parishioners on Friday.
The bishop added in the letter that Cole is “innocent until proven guilty” and will receive financial support from the diocese.
The Rev. Sean Broderick, pastor of Mary, Mother of God Parish in Hillsborough, has been named temporary administrator of St. Joseph Parish, said Erin Friedlander, the diocese’s communications officer.
Bootkoski wrote that the allegations against Cole, who has been a priest for four decades and pastor at St. Joseph for two decades, were brought to the diocese’s attention by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, which decided not to pursue charges because the statue of limitations had expired.
“Until now, I was aware of nothing in Monsignor Cole’s past suggestive of inappropriate behavior,” Bootkoski wrote.
The charge was investigated on behalf of the diocese by a retired detective from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Bootkoski said.
The Diocesean Review Board, composed of laypersons not associated with the diocese in a formal way, interviewed Cole and the alleged victim. Both the investigator and board, the bishop wrote, found that the allegation was “not frivolous.”
Church law requires that a priest be removed as a “precautionary measure” when an allegation of sexual abuse has been “deemed to have a semblance of truth,” according to Bootkoski.
The case will be forwarded to the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where the matter will “likely” be resolved by a canonical trial, the bishop wrote.