Over a year, more than 230 sex abuse suits have been filed in NJ against the Catholic Church

Bergen Record via NorthJersey.com

December 1, 2020

By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin

[Includes a video introduction by Abbott Koloff and a spreadsheet of the accused with information on diocese, parish or school and town, and years of alleged abuse. See also a printable PDF of the spreadsheet.]

The lawsuits filed over the past 12 months in New Jersey alleging sex abuse by Catholic priests have been numerous — there are more than 230 of them — and varied.

One man said that when he was a teenage student and told the vice principal of a Catholic high school in Bergen County that he’d been abused by a religious brother, the administrator struck the student over the head with a 500-page book, warned him never to speak of it again and imposed a five-day suspension.

A woman said she and other members of her Girl Scout troop were repeatedly abused in the basement of a Hackensack church years ago by a priest who was subsequently moved from parish to parish, eventually arrested in Pennsylvania and charged with sexually abusing a young girl in the Harrisburg area. Four of the Pennsylvania girl’s sisters later said they also were abused.

A girl in southern New Jersey confided years ago to her brother that she had been raped by a priest, who had told her God directed him to have sex with her. The brother responded that he, too, had been abused — by the same priest.

The Record and NorthJersey.com has examined more than 230 sex abuse lawsuits filed in New Jersey against the state’s five Roman Catholic dioceses since Dec. 1, 2019, when the state suspended the civil statute of limitations for such cases. The filings name more than 150 clerics, including dozens not on the church’sown list of 188 credibly accused priests released last year, and trace allegations from the 1940s through the present.

The lawsuits represent more than 240 people who allege they were abused. The bulk of the allegations are from the 1970s and 1980s. About two dozen involve abuse of children who were 5 or 6 years old. While most of the accusers are men, at least 20 women are among the plaintiffs. Almost half of the priests named in the suits are deceased.

Hundreds of additional allegations have been filed with the New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Program, which was established by the state’s five Catholic dioceses last year to compensate victims who agree not to pursue lawsuits.

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