Archdiocese Is Paying 3 of Priest's Accusers to Settle Sex Claims

The Jersey Journal [Newark NJ]
May 4, 2006

The Newark Archdiocese has agreed to shell out thousands of dollars to settle sexual abuse claims leveled against Monsignor Peter Cheplic, an alleged predator priest who worked in several Hudson County parishes.

The agreement, arrived at last month, calls for payouts of $50,000 to Joe Capozzi, 37, who now lives in Manhattan, and $25,000 to Raymond Capone, 40, a South Plainfield resident, according to the two men.

A third man will also receive money, but he requested that his identity and the amount of his settlement be kept hidden, said Greg Gianforcaro, the attorney who represented all three men.

The money will help pay legal bills, but it will hardly compensate him for the nightmare he endured, Capone said. He said he came forward not for money, but to prevent other boys from being abused.

"This was only about outing Peter Cheplic for the phony, fraud, sexual deviant and predator that he is," said Capone, who claimed Cheplic molested him in an East Orange parish in 1985. "It was making sure he never misused the church so grossly again."

Capozzi told Archdiocese officials that Cheplic molested him in the 1980s, when Capozzi was a teenager and Cheplic worked at St. Joseph of the Palisades in West New York.

Capozzi said the amount he will receive - about $35,000 after legal fees - will help tide him over while he searches for a new job. He recently had to leave his position as a finance officer at Columbia University because publicity over his accusations made it difficult for him to continue working there, he said.

"It (the settlement) is not changing my life," Capozzi said. "I'm out of work right now, and it will help me figure out what I'm going to do."

The three men made their allegations known last autumn. They never filed a civil lawsuit, and criminal charges were never brought because the statute of limitations had run out.

Earlier this year, after an Archdiocese review board decided to hold a church trial against him over sex-abuse allegations, Cheplic decided to retire and no longer serve as a priest.

From 1972 until 2005, Cheplic worked at St. Aloysius in Jersey City, St. Matthew in Ridgefield, St. Henry's in Bayonne, St. Lawrence in Weehawken, St. Joseph of the Palisades in West New York, and at Holy Spirit/Our Lady Help of Christians in East Orange.

A possible fourth victim, Martin Kansky, now 46 and living in Tennessee, told Archdiocese officials four years ago that Cheplic molested him when he was 18 at a New Jersey beach house. Even though church officials found the allegations "credible," Cheplic was transferred to St. Henry's as a parochial vicar.

Ken Thorbourne and Newhouse News Service staff writer Jeff Diamant contributed to this report.


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