Ex-Priest Faces More Molestation Charges

The Times [New Jersey]
September 7, 2006

Flemington -- A defrocked Roman Catholic priest from Hamil ton who in 2003 was sentenced to a lengthy prison term after he was convicted of sexually molesting an altar boy has been indicted on new charges alleging he molested another child more than a decade ago, the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office announced yesterday.

John M. Banko, 60, is charged in the two-count indictment with ag gravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, the prosecutor's office said.

Authorities allege that Banko, while pastor of a church in the Diocese of Metuchen, sexually as saulted a parishioner under the age of 16 on various dates between September 1994 and May 1995.

The charges were filed by the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Unit, which launched an investigation after receiving information provided by the Diocese of Metuchen.

If convicted on both counts of the indictment, Banko could face an additional 30 years in prison and fines up to $350,000, authorities said.

Banko is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel. He was found guilty in December 2002 of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old altar boy after Mass at St. Edward's Church in Milford on two consecutive Sundays in September 1993.

Banko, who was ordained in Trenton, spent nearly 30 years as a priest in the dioceses of Metuchen and Trenton, including a decade at the former St. Pius X High School in Piscataway and seven years as pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Montgomery.

He was relieved of his priestly duties in April 2000 after the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office launched its original investigation of Banko.

The Diocese of Metuchen agreed to a financial settlement in 2003 with the family of Banko's first victim as part of a larger settlement with several other priest sex- abuse victims.


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