Priest Cleared of Sexual Abuse While Serving at St. Mary’s
By Jennifer Amato
November 17, 2015
A priest who was accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving as associate pastor at St. Mary’s in the 1970s has been cleared of all charges.
Msgr. Raymond L. Cole, who most recently served at St. Joseph Parish in Millstone within the Diocese of Metuchen, was found not guilty by an ecclesiastical tribunal comprised of three priests from outside the Diocese of Metuchen, according to a statement released by Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski on Nov. 12.
“I am satisfied that they conducted the trial in an impartial and professional manner,” Bootkoski said.
“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 to fully restore his reputation.
Cole was removed from St. Joseph’s on Oct. 25, 2013, due to the allegations at St. Mary’s. The information was presented to Bootkoski by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, according to a letter written by the bishop in 2013. He said the prosecutor did not pursue the charges because the statute of limitations had expired, so a retired investigator examined the claims on behalf of the Diocese.
Cole will not return to St. Joseph’s, Bootkoski said, which “is to be commended and viewed as a clear sign of his abiding affection for the community, which he shepherded for three decades.”
“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,” the bishop said.