March 13, 2019
By Rebecca Everett
It’s not unusual for victims of clergy sex abuse to wait decades to report what happened to them. But a lawsuit filed Friday claims a boy abused by a Vineland priest in 1962 was in a car within minutes of the abuse, being driven in the middle of the night to report it to the then-bishop of the Diocese of Camden.
“Never speak of this again,” was the response he received from the late bishop Celestine Damiano, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed by a 73-year-old Ocean County man describes abuse at age 16 by Father Richard Gerbino, then a priest at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Vineland. He is among the credibly-accused priests the New Jersey dioceses released publicly in February.
And in a twist, the priest the boy immediately reported the abuse to — and who drove him to meet with the bishop — also ended up being outed as a child abuser decades later.
The driver, John P. “Jack” Connor was named in the Pennsylvania clergy abuse grand jury investigation report. The report alleged bishops in Camden, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh shuffled him from diocese to diocese, even after he admitted to abusing a boy in 1984, until he was removed from ministry in 2002.
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