Updated list of accused clergy with Jersey Shore ties
By Andrew Goudsward, Alex N. Gecan And Steph Solis
Asbury Park Press
February 18, 2019
|Bishop David O'Connell of the Trenton Diocese is shown during a Confirmation mass at the Church of St. Martha in Point Pleasant Borough on October 26, 2018.|
|The Rev. Romannilo S. Apura, pastor of St. Martha Parish in Point Pleasant, was arrested Thursday.|
|Joseph Prioli is seen in this 2010 file photo leading the morning mass in the chapel at Christian Brothers Academy in Middletown.|
The Catholic Diocese of Trenton has named 30 former clergymen who stand credibly accused of sexual abuse against children.
All 30 men are either dead or have been removed from their ministries. The list, initially released Feb. 13, has been updated to include the assignments each cleric had during their time in the ministry and whether they have one or multiple accusers.
"This preliminary list will be updated as more information becomes available," Bishop David M. O'Connell wrote in a statement Feb. 13. "I do this with the greatest sadness and a heavy heart."
The release of the list, which officials committed to last year, represents a major milestone in New Jersey in the ongoing reckoning with decades of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and follows a push for greater transparency from the church about what transpired.
The accused include a former assistant superintendent of diocese's schools, a youth group coordinator and a priest who coordinated a council teaching human sexuality to children.
The Diocese of Trenton is in charge of churches in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
The accused are:
Romanilo S. Apuro
Ronald R. Becker (deceased)
Richard C. Brietske
Gerard J. Brown (deceased)
Francis D. Bruno
Charles J. Comito (deceased)
Benjamin R. Dino (deceased)
Manuel R. M. Fernandez (deceased)
Thomas J. Frain (deceased)
Gerald J. Griffin (deceased)
Douglas U. Hermansen
Frank J. Iazette (deceased)
Vincent J. Inghilterra
Francis J. C. Janos (deceased)
Leo A. Kelty (deceased)
Patrick F. Magee
Terrance O. McAlinden (deceased)
Francis M. McGrath
Joseph F. McHugh (deceased)
William J. McKeone
Richard R. Milewski
Liam A. Minogue (deceased)
Sebastian L. Muccilli (deceased)
Robert J. Parenti
Joseph J. Prioli
Joseph R. Punderson
Thomas A. Rittenhouse (deceased)
John E. Sullivan (deceased)
Florencio P. Tumang (deceased)
Brendan H. Williams
"I greatly admire and respect the courage of those victims who have come forward," O'Connell said. "It is our hope that the public presentation of these names will contribute to healing the awful wounds that victims have endured at the hands of some clergy."
Seventeen of the 30 priests named have died, and 13 have been removed from ministry. But newspaper archives have reports of a number of the priests, including:
ROMANILO S. APURA
Past assignments: St. Joachim, Trenton; St. Agnes, Atlantic Highlands; St. Maximillian Kolbe, Toms River; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown; St. Ann, Keansburg; St. Mary, Trenton; St. Martha, Point Pleasant
The Rev. Romannilo S. Apura was known as “Father Nilo" to parishioners at St. Martha R.C. Church in Point Pleasant, where he was named pastor in 2012. But in 2014, Apura, now 71, was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy in Trenton, where he previously served as a priest in two different parishes — St. Joachim and St. Mary of the Assumption. Apura was accused of molesting the teenage boy at a home in Trenton twice in late spring and early summer of 2014, authorities in Mercer County said. He subsequently pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual contact, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison on Nov. 20, 2015. Apura was released from the state Corrections Department’s Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center on Nov. 30, 2017.
RONALD R. BECKER
Past assignments: Incarnation, Trenton; Holy Angels, Hamilton; Precious Blood, Monmouth Beach; Diocesan Scouting Chaplain; St. Francis, Trenton
The Rev. Ronald R. Becker was accused in 2007 of fondling a female family member when she was between the ages of 3 and 7 years old at a home in Jamesburg. The victim, who was 26 years old at the time she came forward, said the abuse occurred in the 1980s. Becker died before he could face trial in the case. He was also accused of sexually abusing five altar boys at the Incarnation Parish in Ewing in the 1970s and 1980s. The Diocese of Trenton paid the victims a total of $1 million in 2011 to settle their claims, according to Press archives. One victim told a reporter, “What I went through destroyed my faith.”
The church said at the time of Becker’s arrest that he hadn’t been given a parish assignment since 1989. Press archives list a Rev. Ronald R. Becker as pastor of the Precious Blood Parish in Monmouth Beach in 1986.
RICHARD C. BRIETSKE
Past assignments: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Maple Shade; St. Rose, Belmar; St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Edison (principal); St. George, Titusville; St. Mary, South Amboy; Monmouth College, Chaplain; St. Dominic, Brick; Director, Office of Evangelization, Chancery, Lawrenceville; Nativity, Fair Haven; St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square; Corpus Christi, Willingboro; Director, Office of Parish Life, Chancery, Lawrenceville; Chancellor of the Diocese of Trenton, Chancery, Lawrenceville
Monsignor Richard C. Brietske was a prominent figure within in the diocese. Upon his retirement in 2012, the Trenton Monitor, the newspaper run by the diocese, wrote an article lauding his “exciting and fulfilling” career as priest. He was ordained in 1973 and became the founding principal of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Edison. At the same time, he served as chaplain of Monmouth College, now Monmouth University, in West Long Branch. Later in his career, he was the pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Fair Haven and St. Gregory the Great in Hamilton Square. Brietske, who was later named monsignor, was tasked with coordinating the diocese celebration of the new millennium in 2000 and was the head of the diocesan building commission. He served as a weekend assistant at the Church of St. Catherine in Holmdel until 2007, according The Monitor. Information about the accusations against Brietske was not available in the public record. He has never been convicted of a felony or been the party of a lawsuit in New Jersey, records show.
GERARD J. BROWN
Past assignments: St. Francis, Metuchen; St. Anthony, Trenton; St. Michael, West End (Long Branch); St. Mary Motherhouse, Cape May (chaplain); St. Mary of the Lake, Lakewood; Corpus Christi, Willingboro; St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square
Press archives and wedding announcements list Brown as pastor of St. Mary of the Lake Church in Lakewood in the 1980s and 1970s and assistant rector of St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s. The nature of the allegations against him are unclear. He has never been convicted of a felony in New Jersey.
FRANCIS D. BRUNO
Past assignments: Our Lady of Good Counsel, West Trenton; St. Mary, New Monmouth (Middletown); St. James, Woodbridge; St. Martha, Point Pleasant; St. Joachim, Trenton
Bruno, 70, was accused in a 1994 lawsuit of sexually assaulting a man when he was an altar boy aged 12 to 14 between 1978 and 1981. The lawsuit claimed the abuse happened at St. James R.C. Church in Woodbridge, the Sacred Heart R.C. Church in South Amboy and at the Stella Maris Retreat on Long Beach Island. Bruno has since been removed from the ministry.
CHARLES J. COMITO
Past assignments: St. Catherine, Middletown (Press archives also indicate he was a deacon at St. Theresa in Little Egg Harbor)
Comito, a former deacon of St. Theresa Church in Little Egg Harbor, was also the coordinator of the diocese’s Family Life Education Counsel, which taught human sexuality to children and was created in response to rising teen pregnancy rates. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Comito and his wife delivered seminars throughout the area to parents on how to teach sexuality to their children, according to Press archives. A former pastor at St. Theresa Church was removed from the ministry in 2007 amid allegations of sexual abuse, according to the Press of Atlantic City. He died in Florida in 2015, according his obituary. Information about the allegations against him was not publicly available.
BENJAMIN R. DINO
Past assignments: St. Ann, Keansburg; St. Clement, Matawan
Dino was assigned to St. Clement’s Church in Matawan and St. Ann’s Church in Keansburg for several decades. The allegations against him are unclear.
MANUEL R. M. FERNANDEZ
Past assignments: Eatontown Mission, Eatontown; Blessed Sacrament, Trenton; St. John the Baptist, Long Branch; Star of the Sea, Long Branch; Jesus the Lord, Keyport; St. Mary, Trenton; St. Joseph, Trenton
Monsignor Manuel Fernandez was removed from the ministry in 2002 after he was credibly accused of inappropriate conduct with a young girl about two decades prior while he was the pastor the Immaculate Conception Church in Eatontown and later St. John the Baptist Church in Long Branch, the Associated Press reported at the time. The case was referred to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, which at the time said the statue of limitations had expired and charges could not be filed. At the time he was removed, Fernandez was the rector St. Mary Cathedral and pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Trenton. He was named monsignor in 1997. During his time in Long Branch, Fernandez was in charge of the diocese’s Hispanic office.
THOMAS J. FRAIN
Past assignments: St. Agnes, Atlantic Highlands; Holy Angels, Trenton; St. Michael, West End (Long Branch) St. Mark, Sea Girt; Our Lady of Sorrows, Hamilton; Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Chancery, Lawrenceville; Sacred Heart, Trenton; St. Ann, Lawrenceville
The Rev. Monsignor Thomas Frain was the pastor of St. Ann Church in Lawrenceville for nearly three decades from 1967 until his retirement in 1995. He also served a stint as assistant superintendent of schools and director of schools for the Diocese of Trenton, according his obituary. He died in 1997. The nature of the allegations against him are unclear.
GERALD J. GRIFFIN
Past assignments: St. Paul, Burlington; St. Mary, Perth Amboy; St. Joseph, North Plainfield; Our Lady of Peace, Fords (Edison); Blessed Sacrament, Trenton; St. Anthony, Red Bank; St. James, Basking Ridge; Holy Cross, Rumson; Sacred Heart, Trenton; St. Peter, New Brunswick; Our Lady of Mercy, Englishtown
Griffin was assigned to Our Lady of Mercy Church in Englishtown in the 1970s and St. Antony’s Church in Red Bank in the 1950s. Details of the allegations against him were not available.
DOUGLAS H. HERMANSEN
Past assignments: St. Paul, Princeton; Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville (Chaplain); St. Raphael, Hamilton; St. Rose of Lima, Freehold; St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel (chaplain); St. Pius X, Forked River (Lacey); Jersey Shore Medical Center, Neptune (chaplain)
Details about the allegations against him were not available.
FRANK J. IAZETTA
Past assignments: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Maple Shade; St. Paul, Princeton; St. Rose High School, Belmar (faculty); St. Elizabeth, Avon; St. Joseph High School, Metuchen (faculty); Sacred Heart, New Brunswick; Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville (faculty); Holy Trinity, Long Branch; St. Ann, Browns Mills (Pemberton); Holy Angels, Trenton; St. Veronica, Howell
Iazetta had been asked to resign as pastor of Holy Trinity in 1982 because of a split among parishioners. Details of his alleged abuse were not available.
VINCENT J. INGHILTERRA
Past assignments: St. Philip and St. James, Philipsburg; Trenton State College (College of New Jersey), Ewing (chaplain); Holy Spirit, Asbury Park; Holy Cross, Rumson; U.S. Army (chaplain) Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio (staff)
When one victim was sexually abused by Inghilterra when he was 16 years old, another teen told him he was now “one of Father Vince’s boys,” according to a 2016 story by NJ.com. The Diocese of Trenton agreed to pay the victim a six-figure settlement in 2016. The alleged abuse occurred after the victim went to Inghilterra, who was then associated with Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey), for guidance about his sexuality. The priest, who was supervising a camp the victim attended, allegedly abused the victim twice in 1979.
"At the time, I didn't think it was abuse," the victim told NJ.com. "A priest isn't just your best friend. He represents the church. If he says that's OK, that's OK. You don't question that."
Inghilterra previously had served as a U.S. Army chaplain in Ohio. He did not face criminal charges as a result of the alleged abuse and has never been convicted of a felony in New Jersey.
FRANCIS J.C. JANOS
Past assignments: St. Mary, Perth Amboy; St. Francis, Metuchen; Our Lady of Lourdes, Milltown; St. Philip & St. James, Phillipsburg; St. Rose of Lima, Freehold; Middlesex County Boy Scouts (chaplain) Our Lady of Mercy, Englishtown; St. Matthew the Apostle, Edison; St. Joseph, High Bridge; St. Mary, Barnegat
The allegations against him are unclear.
LEO A. KELTY
Past assignments: Camp Columbus, Bamber Lake (chaplain); St. Mary, Perth Amboy; Ascension, Bradley Beach; St. Ann, Keansburg; St. Dorothea, Eatontown; St. James, Jamesburg Corpus Christi, South River; St. Catherine, Holmdel; St. William the Abbot, Howell (Press archives indicate he also served at St. Robert Bellarmine in Freehold)
Kelty was removed from the ministry in 2002 after he was accused of sexually touching a teenage girl decades earlier when he was the pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Freehold Township. Kelty alleged fondled the teen on at least two occasions. His case was referred to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, which said too much time had transpired since the abuse to bring charges. Kelty was assigned to St. William the Abbot in Howell when he was removed.
The case came to light after the diocese agreed to review its records of alleged misconduct by priests amid a worldwide controversy beginning in 2002 over child sex abuse by clergy.
PATRICK F. MAGEE
Past assignments: Our Lady of Fatima, Piscataway; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown; Corpus Christi, Willingboro; St. Martha, Point Pleasant; Sacred Heart, Bay Head
The 77-year-old Magee, who was the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Bay Head, had been arrested in Ireland in 2004 on charges of sexually abusing a child there more than 30 years ago.
The charges stemmed from when Magee was a seminary student, studying to become a priest in Ireland. He was charged with "committing an act of gross indecency on or towards a child on a date unknown between Jan. 1, 1965, and Dec. 31, 1969, in the Armagh and South Down area" of Northern Ireland, and with indecently assaulting a child during that same period, according to reports at the time. He has since been removed from the ministry.
TERANCE O. McALINDEN
Past assignments: Our Lady of Victories, Sayreville; Incarnation, Trenton; Chancery, Lawrenceville; Jeremiah House, Keyport; St. Theresa, Little Egg Harbor
McAlinden has been accused of decades of sexual abuse of teenage boys. Chris Naples, who grew up in Brick, came forward with accusations that McAlinden, who was known as “Father Mac” had abused him more than 10 years. The two met at the Jeremiah Retreat House in Keyport, where McAlinden supervised the diocese’s youth group in the 1980s. The victim alleged McAlinden had molested him repeatedly on boat trips and shore getaways to Delaware. Naples' allegations spurred two other men to come forward with stories of abuse by the priest. One said said he was sexually abused in 1989 and was paid to keep quiet about the assault. Another claimed he was sexually assaulted at age of 14 in the rectory of Our Lady of Victories Church in Sayreville, where the victim was an altar boy in the 1960s.
During a deposition in the suit brought by Naples, McAlinden admitted having a sexual relationship with Naples, but claimed it only began after Naples turned 18. He also admitted sleeping nude with teenage boys active in the diocese’s youth group at the Jeremiah Retreat House in Keyport, according to a report by NJ.com.
McAlinden was removed from the ministry in 2007. He has since died.
Past assignments: St. James, Red Bank; St. Anthony, Trenton; St. Justin, Toms River
McGrath, 68, had been assigned to St. James Parish in Red Bank from 1978 to 1983; St. Anthony’s in Trenton from 1983 to 1989, and St. Justin’s in Toms River from 1989 to 1995. In 1995, an individual alleged sexual abuse by McGrath in the early 1970s when McGrath was a seminarian for the Diocese of Trenton at St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore. In 2002, another individual alleged abuse by McGrath in the mid-1970s. He was removed from the ministry in 1995.
JOSEPH F. McHUGH
Past assignments: St. Mary, New Monmouth (Middletown); Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Maple Shade; St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square; St. Raphael, Hamilton; St. Joseph, Beverly; St. Veronica, Howell; St. Thomas More, Manalapan
McHugh was accused of molesting a 9-year-old boy who was a parishioner of St. Thomas More Church in Manalapan from 1994 to 1996. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child; he received a sentence of five years’ probation, a $5,000 fine had to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. He is now deceased.
WILLIAM J. McKEONE
Past assignments: St. Dominic, Brick; St. Denis, Manasquan; St. Mary of the Lakes, Medford; Our Lady Queen of Peace, Hainesport; Morris Hall, Lawrenceville (chaplain) Voluntas Dei Institute.
The allegations against him are unclear.
RICHARD R. MILEWSKI
Past assignments: Corpus Christi, Willingboro; St. Veronica, Howell; St. Anthony of Padua, Hightstown; St. Mary, Barnegat; Holy Eucharist, Tabernacle; St. Rose of Lima, Freehold
Milewski, 72, was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a boy in the 1980s, when the clergyman was assigned to St. Veronica's Church in Howell. The lawsuit charged that Milewski abused an unnamed Virginia man between 1984 and 1985, when the man was 13 years old and a student and altar boy at St. Veronica’s.
Milewski, who had also served as the pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Freehold, has been removed from the ministry.
LIAM A. MINOGUE
Past assignments: Monmouth County Scouts (chaplain) St. Rose of Lima, Freehold; Incarnation, Trenton; St. Anthony, Trenton; St. Veronica, Howell; Our Lady of Victories, Baptistown (Kingwood); St. George, Washington Crossing; St. Martha, Point Pleasant; St. Peter, New Brunswick; St. John the Baptist, New Brunswick; Mary Mother of God, Hillsborough
Minogue, who had been named a reverend monsignor by the pope in 2004, served in a number of churches across the diocese. He died in 2007. The allegations against him are unclear.
SEBASTIAN L. MUCCILLI
Past assignments: St. Mary, Alpha; St. Anthony, Hightstown; U.S. Navy (chaplain); Rutgers University, New Brunswick (chaplain); Sacred Heart School of Theology Franklin, Wisconsin (faculty)
The allegations against him are unclear.
ROBERT J. PARENTI
Past assignments: St. Veronica, Howell; St. Denis, Manasquan; Assumption, New Egypt; Our Lady of Peace, Normandy Beach (Brick)
Rev. Robert J. Parenti, 80, was removed from the ministry in December 1998 while church officials investigated allegations of ''sexual misconduct'' with a minor 25 years earlier, according to Press archives.
JOSEPH J. PRIOLI
Past assignments: St. Catherine of Siena, Farmingdale; Christian Brothers Academy; Middletown (faculty)
Joseph Prioli, a former teacher at Christian Brothers Academy who lived in Howell, was arrested in January 2017 on charges that he sexually assaulted a relative for years beginning in 2007. He was also a deacon at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Farmingdale. Prioli was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2017 after pleading guilty to second-degree sexual conduct with a child by a caretaker. The victim addressed Prioli at his sentencing telling the court "He invaded my privacy, my bed, my body," according to Press archives.
Before he was sentenced, Prioli expressed remorse to the judge saying, "My regret is deep and true. I am, in fact, horrified by my own actions."
He remains in state prison.
JOSEPH R. PUNDERSON
Past assignments: Christ the King, Manville; St. Mary, Trenton; Sacred Heart, Trenton; Vice Chancellor, Diocese of Trenton; Morris Hall, Lawrenceville (Chaplain); Apostolic Signatura, Vatican City (Rome)
The allegations against him are unclear.
Thomas A. Rittenhouse
Past assignments: St. Denis, Manasquan; St. James, Woodbridge; St. Anthony, Trenton; Holy Cross, Rumson; St. Anthony of Padua, Hightstown; St. Clement, Matawan; St. Agnes, Atlantic Highlands; St. Peter, Riverside
The allegations against him are unclear.
JOHN E. SULLIVAN
Past assignments: Our Lady of Victories, Sayreville; St. Agnes, Atlantic Highlands; Holy Spirit, Asbury Park; Incarnation, Trenton; Mary Mother of God, Hillsborough; St. Joseph, Beverly; St. Gabriel, Marlboro
The allegations against him are unclear.
FLORENCIO P. TUMANG
Past assignments: St. John Vianney, Colonia; St. Catherine, Middletown; St. Mary of the Lakes, Medford
In a lawsuit filed in Burlington County, four young women — including one minor — alleged they were sexually assaulted by Tumang of St. Mary of the Lakes Church in Medford in the 1980s and 1990s. One said the assaults took place in 1987 or 1988; two said it took place in 1990, and the fourth alleges Tumang assaulted her in 1992 when she was 14.
Tumang, who was born in 1923, is now deceased.
BRENDAN H. WILLIAMS
Past assignments: St. Joan of Arc, Marlton; Holy Angels, Hamilton; St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Edison (chaplain); St. Veronica, Howell
Williams was the pastor of St. Veronica’s church in Howell and Milewski’s supervisor, according to a lawsuit. There is no other immediate information available about Williams, or why he has since been removed from the ministry.