Suspended Somerset Priest Accused of Child Sex Assault Returning to Ministry
By Jason Koestenblatt
November 16, 2015
More than two years after being suspended by the Diocese of Metuchen for an alleged child sex assault that occurred in the 1970s, Msgr. Raymond Cole has been reinstated.
In a letter to the parish of St. Joseph Church in Hillsborough, Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski explained that Cole underwent a church trial, consisting of three clergy members from outside the Diocese of Metuchen.
The tribunal, after hearing charges of sexual abuse of a minor against Cole, returned a not guilty verdict, the letter said.
“I am satisfied that they conducted the trial in an impartial and professional manner,” Bootkoski wrote. “While there can be neither victory nor victor in a situation such as this, the outcome of the trial means that Msgr. Cole is again a priest in good standing in the Diocese and I hope this decision will be the first step in fully restoring his reputation.”
While he has been approved to return to ministry, Cole will not be returning to St. Joseph Church, the letter said.
“Looking to the future, Msgr. Cole’s decision to put the stability of the parish before his personal preference and not return to St. Joseph Parish as pastor is to be commended and viewed as a clear sign of his abiding affection for the community which he shepherded for three decades,” the letter said. “I have no doubt that his desire to be involved in the critical area of Hispanic ministry will contribute greatly to the overall mission of the Diocese in the years to come.”