26 Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse
Diocese of Camden to Disclose Names to Prosecutors
By Alan Guenther
April 12, 2002
The Camden Diocese disclosed Thursday that 26 of its priests have been accused of molesting children over the past [four] decades.
That's 19 more than the diocese has ever acknowledged. The names of the priests will be turned over to county prosecutors for investigation.Twenty-three served in Camden County.
Only one -- Msgr. James P. McIntyre of Church of the Holy Family in Washington Township -- is still serving a congregation.
McIntyre vehemently denies he sexually abused children as alleged in a class-action lawsuit filed against him and the diocese by a group of former parishioners. The allegations date back 27years, and they're part of a broader lawsuit against 14 priests before Superior Court in Atlantic County. The allegations are 'not credible,' said diocese spokesman Andrew Walton.
While making the new disclosures, the diocese announced the formation of a panel to suggest how the Catholic Church can better handle child sexual abuse complaints.
The independent, volunteer panel will be headed by former CamdenCounty Prosecutor Edward F. Borden. Its 10 members will include a rabbi, a Lutheran minister, child care experts and at least one victim of child sexual abuse by a priest.
Although the panel is supposed to determine how the church deals with public complaints, its meetings may be closed to the public.
'I suspect what we will be considering in these kinds of hearingswill not be conducive to being open public hearings,' Borden said.
No date has been set for the first meeting, but Borden said he hopes it will take place within a week.
'There is a legitimate concern among parishioners and the public at large about whether the church has been as forthcoming as it could have been and should have been over the last several decades,' Bordensaid.
He agreed to serve because the diocese wanted 'an independent body' that would be free to make recommendations.
The church will also offer an 800 number on April 22 to handle past or present complaints of child sexual abuse. Calls will be taken by Lawrence Rosoff, an independent attorney and former municipal court judge.
The actions by the diocese come in the wake of a growing national controversy about whether the church routinely suppressed reports of sexual abuse by its priests. The church denies it silenced accusers while moving priests to new assignments without warning parishioners of past complaints of misconduct.
'Our children are a sacred trust,' said the Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Camden. 'They are the future of our church and our society.The Diocese of Camden is committed to immediate, tangible steps to ensure these cases are responded to as promptly as possible, and that we prevent new cases from arising.'
Since the 1960s, about 900 priests have served in the diocese, according to Walton. The 26 accused priests represent 2.9 percentof the total number of priests who served during that period.
Not all the charges against the priests are deemed 'credible' by the diocese, Walton said.
The claims denied by the diocese include complaints against 14 priests charged in a lawsuit being heard in Atlantic County. Some of the allegations in that lawsuit date back 41 years.
The attorney for the plaintiffs in that case -- Stephen Rubino-- called the church's actions 'a step in the right direction' but not nearly enough.
According to Rubino's files, at least 37 Camden Diocese priests have been accused of child sexual abuse over the past three decades.
Unless the names of the priests are made public, it's not possibleto judge how forthcoming the church is being, he said.
Previously, only seven priests' names had been turned over to authorities for investigation.
Of those, four were arrested and convicted, the last being the Rev. Peter Osinski, a former vice principal at Camden CatholicHigh School. Osinski admitted he molested a 6-year-old boy and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1998.
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