Accused Morris Priest to Step Aside

By John Chadwick
The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
September 4, 2002

A Catholic priest in Morris County has agreed to step down while the Diocese of Paterson investigates whether he sexually assaulted a minor nearly four decades ago.

The Rev. James A.D. Smith, 72, served as an assistant pastor at St. Therese in Roxbury Township. A priest for 45 years, he took a leave of absence beginning Friday, said Marianna Thompson, spokeswoman for the diocese.

The diocese learned of the accusation last month after receiving a letter from a lawyer representing the alleged victim. The diocese turned the information over to acting Passaic County Prosecutor Boris Moczula, who determined that the case was too old to prosecute, Thompson said.

The assault was alleged to have occurred in Passaic County in the early Sixties, she said.

A review board set up by the diocese to investigate sex cases will look at the allegation and determine whether there is enough evidence for disciplinary action.

Since sex assaults on children became a national scandal in January, four priests in the diocese have been placed on leave because of allegations that go back decades.

The diocese is still reviewing those cases and is beginning the process of removing two other priests for assaulting minors.


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