Priest Sex Abuse Suit Dismissed

By Alan Guenther
Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ)
January 16, 2003

A sexual abuse lawsuit against a Washington Township priest was dismissed after his accuser's credibility was questioned.

The charges against Msgr. James McIntyre, pastor of Churchof the Holy Family parish, were outlined in the only lawsuit alleging molestation by an active priest in the Camden Diocese.

'This has certainly been a very difficult time for MonsignorMcIntyre,' Andrew Walton, spokesman for the diocese, said Wednesday.'Throughout it all, he has always denied the allegations, and he has spoken openly about it to his parishioners.'

There have been no other allegations against McIntyre, Waltonsaid. Also dismissed were complaints in the same lawsuit against two deceased priests -- Dennis Rigney and Francis Fleming -- and the diocese.

Plaintiff James J. Smith, 54, of Voorhees, had claimed McIntyre and the other priests abused him between 1963 and 1966. But from the start, Smith's lawsuit was complicated because he admitted lying about his background and education to church attorneys.

Smith's lies were caused by trauma from the alleged abuse, said his attorney, Lewis Bornstein of Cherry Hill.

To get through life, Smith adopted a swaggering, 'John Wayne character' who exaggerated his credentials, said Bornstein.

In Atlantic City on Monday, Superior Court Judge John Himmelberger Jr. said he would be forced to contact prosecutors if Smith admitted he had lied under oath during his deposition.

Given that warning, Smith invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination in response to questions from church attorneys. That's when Himmelberger agreed to dismiss the case.

Court officials said eight more hearings are scheduled on alleged sexual abuse by South Jersey priests. The next hearing will be in February.

Under New Jersey law, minors must file claims within two years of becoming adults. The plaintiffs are trying to prove that extraordinary circumstances, including pressure from the church, prevented them from filing claims earlier.

McIntyre, who had denied the allegations, could not be reached for comment.


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