Press Release Detail
Statement of the Diocese of Trenton regarding an allegation of child sexual abuse against Holy Ghost Father O'Donoghue

Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton
July 15, 2009

The Diocese of Trenton was informed of the existence of a civil complaint alleging sexual abuse by a Father John O'Donoghue during his ministry in St. Catharine Parish, and its mission, St. Margaret, both in Spring Lake from 1972-1974. Though our records show that no priest with that name has ever served in the Diocese, we do have a Father Charles O'Donoghue on record who served in that parish from 1969 to 1975.

Father Charles O'Donoghue was a Father of the Holy Ghost (a religious order based in Ireland also known as the Irish Spiritans). Our records show that he returned to Ireland in 1975. A complaint against a Father O'Donoghue was made known to the diocese in 2002 dating back to the mid-1970s. That allegation was turned over to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office when it was received in 2002. Unconfirmed records show that Father Charles O'Donoghue died in 1986 in Ireland at the age of 84.

In keeping with our procedures, we have reported this most recent complaint to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and will present it to the Diocesan Review Board. We have also reached out to the Irish Spiritan Fathers for information about Father O'Donoghue. As always, we ask for the prayers of the diocesan family for all of those involved in this allegation.

Any allegation of child sexual abuse by a representative of the Church brings with it much pain, even when the complaint dates back more than a generation. In notices that are posted regularly and consistently on the diocesan website, in the diocesan newspaper, The Monitor, and in parish bulletins, the Diocese of Trenton urges anyone who has been abused by a representative of the Church to come forward. It is our responsibility to respond to any such complaint in keeping with our policy to notify the appropriate law enforcement agencies, and to offer the complaining parties what they need to begin the healing process.

Today, the Diocese of Trenton is committed to the ongoing effort to create safe environments for children and young persons in our parishes, schools and other institutions. We do this by training clergy, staff and volunteers about child abuse and what protective measures were required to prevent it; conducting background checks to ensure that no known pedophiles had access to children through our Church outlets, and teaching children how best to keep themselves safe from those who might want to harm them.

To date, more than 80,000 children and teens in the parish programs and Catholic schools of the Diocese have gone through the training program entitled Teaching Touching Safety. Additionally, approximately 24,000 clergy, staff and volunteers who serve in the Diocese have completed the Protecting God's Children program, which teaches best practices for preserving safe environments. The same number have undergone criminal background checks to clear them for their work with children and young persons.

Contact us:

Office of Communications and Public Relations

Director: Rayanne Bennett

Diocesan Pastoral Center

PO Box 5147-0147

701 Lawrenceville Road

Trenton, NJ 08638-0147

Phone: 609-406-7400 ext. 5569


Assistant: Jennifer Britton

Office of Communications

Phone: 609-406-7400 ext. 5599

Fax: 609-406-7423



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