Pastor of Short Hills Church Steps down Following Allegation of Sexual Abuse; Authorities Notified
By Mark Mueller
October 6, 2014
|The Rev. Msgr. George Trabold, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Short Hills since 1998, has stepped down amid an investigation into an allegation of sexual abuse. (Knights of Columbus)|
The popular pastor of a Millburn church has stepped down from ministry while authorities and officials with the Archdiocese of Newark investigate an allegation of sexual abuse related to his tenure at another parish.
The Rev. Msgr. George Trabold, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Millburn’s Short Hills section, was removed from ministry sometime last week. An announcement was read aloud during weekend Masses at the church, said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese.
“He voluntarily stepped down while the investigation goes on,” Goodness said.
The allegation stems from Trabold’s time at St. John the Evangelist Church in Bergenfield, according to a copy of the announcement. Trabold served two stints at the Bergen County church, first as an associate pastor from 1973 to 1977 and then as pastor from 1994 to 1998. A similar announcement was read at St. John the Evangelist over the weekend.
“We know that most of you in the parish have great affection and respect for Msgr. Trabold and it is with great sadness that the archdiocese must take these steps,” the statements at both parishes said. “However, it is important to investigate this information fully, and to cooperate with authorities in such matters. … We ask for your understanding and prayers for all involved in this matter during this time.”
Goodness provided little detail about the allegation, declining to say if the accuser was a man or woman.
“It is the only allegation we’ve received, and it relates to something from decades ago,” he said. “As always, there is the presumption of innocence.”
Following protocol, the archdiocese notified the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, he said. The prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trabold, 67, has served as pastor at St. Rose since leaving the Bergenfield church in 1998. The Rev. Chris Beirne, St. Rose’s parochial vicar and now administrator of the parish in the pastor’s absence, called Trabold a beloved figure.
“Father Trabold has been an outstanding presence here at St. Rose of Lima,” Beirne said. “He has done many things to grow this parish spiritually, physically, prayerfully. He’s been here a long time, and he’s been a source of great love for the people of St. Rose. They’re very upset. They miss him very much.”
The Archdiocesan Review Board, composed mainly of lay people, will conduct its own investigation of the abuse claim. If the allegation is found to be credible, Trabold will be permanently removed from ministry, according the archdiocese’s policies.
Ordained in 1973, Trabold has held a variety of positions within the archdiocese, including secretary for canonical affairs and chairman of the development committee, according to a biography of him on the webpage for the Short Hills chapter of the Knights of Columbus. Trabold is the group’s chaplain.
He also has served as a judge in the archdiocese’s tribunal ministry, the biography states. For two years in the 1980s, he was posted to the Diocese of Metuchen, where he assisted in the development of a marriage tribunal, the biography shows.