Plea-Deal Priest's Next Stop: Bayonne

The Jersey Journal [Freehold NJ]
April 29, 2006

A Catholic priest accused of molesting a 9-year-old boy a decade ago may be moving to Bayonne.

The Rev. Joseph McHugh, who is accused of molesting the boy after taking him to basketball games, was sentenced to five years of probation yesterday in Freehold in a deal that dropped a sexual assault charge to spare the victim from having to testify.

McHugh, who was removed from active ministry about 10 years ago, had pleaded guilty in October to a single count of endangering the welfare of a child. He has indicated he plans to live with a relative in Bayonne.

State Superior Court Judge Bette Uhrmacher sentenced McHugh to probation, fined him $1,000 and required him to register with the state as a sex offender.

Gregory Gianforcaro, the lawyer for the family of the victim, said none of them wanted to put him through the trauma of a trial, and agreed to let the priest plead guilty to the endangerment charge, knowing there was a good chance he would escape any jail time.

McHugh declined to speak in court and did not answer questions outside the courtroom after the sentencing. His attorney did not speak about details of the case in court and also declined to comment after the hearing.

The victim sued McHugh and the Diocese of Trenton, and received an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount, Gianforcaro said.

Steven Emery, a spokesman for the Diocese of Trenton, said McHugh has been on leave since 1996, and has been removed from active ministry, although he technically remains an employee of the diocese.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.