N.J. Diocese Settles Decades-old Church Sex Abuse Claims
By Greg Adomaitis
March 30, 2016
A Boston-based lawyer announced Monday that settlements have been reached with the the Diocese of Camden regarding two sexual assault claims dating back decades.
Allegations against Rev. Joseph Brennan, who was assigned to the St. Maurice Church in Brooklawn, and Rev. Phillip Matthews, who served at the Mount Carmel Church in Berlin, were among the 16 men named Monday in lawyer Mitchell Garabedian's updated list of the accused.
Garabedian was portrayed by actor Stanley Tucci in the 2015 film "Spotlight" that detailed the sex abuse scandal within the Boston Archdiocese.
According to bishop-accountabilty.org, Brennan allegedly abused a child at a Brooklawn parish between 1957 and 1959. Matthews was accused of abusing a child in 1966. Neither men — both of whom have since died — had been previously identified as being accused of sexual misconduct prior to Monday's announcement.
According to Philly.com, the victims were between the ages of 10 and 14 at the time and are now in their 60s and 70s. The settlements reached the middle "five figures."
Priest cleared in 1970s claims
The Brennan case — which allegedly occurred at the church's bedroom and the priest's rectory bedroom — was settled in January, according to the report. The Matthews case — which allegedly occurred at a hotel in Atlantic City — was settled in February 2015, per The Boston Globe.
"The Diocese of Camden takes any claim of sexual abuse seriously, and reports every allegation of abuse to law enforcement authorities," Michael Walsh, a Camden diocese spokesman, said via email Tuesday. "The policy of the Diocese is to settle every single credible claim of sexual abuse — no matter how old the claim might be, and regardless of whether the statute of limitations has expired."
Walsh said the Camden diocese has policies and procedures in place "to ensure the safest possible environment for those entrusted to its care," adding that criminal background checks, abuse prevention training and a Memorandum of Understanding with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office to report abuse and a toll-free 800 number have also been implemented.
Additional information regarding the Office of Child and Youth Protection can be found online at camdendiocese.org/cyp/.