More Alleged Victims of Jersey City Priest's Sex Abuse Come Forward

By Michaelangelo Conte
Jersey Journal
August 24, 2009

News of a settlement between a man sexually abused by a former Jersey City priest has prompted four more alleged victims to come forward, including two from Jersey City, according to David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The news comes on the same day that a man molested in Missouri by the Rev. Carmine Sita, now known as the Rev. Gerald "Gerry" Howard spoke out for the first time about being abused.

Dr. Mark McAllister has reached a $600,000 settlement with the Catholic dioceses in Newark and in Missouri as well as a New Mexico counseling center where the former St. Aloysius Parish priest was sent after he was found to be molesting a teen in Jersey City.

This Jersey Journal file photo shows the Rev. Carmine Sita when he was accused of and pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 17-year-old boy at St. Aloysius Parish in Jersey City.
Photo by Jersey Journal

At a news conference outside Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark this morning, which was followed later in the day by a news conference outside St. Aloysius, McAllister said he once met that 17-year-old victim.

"I met him in person and my impression of (name omitted) was that he was tragically addicted to illegal drugs," McAllister said. "He looked like he was in a downward spiral."

McAllister, who is now working with SNAP, said more victims of Sita have come forward as a result of publicity about his settlement, and Clohessy confirmed that two said they were abused in Jersey City and the other two in Missouri.

No legal actions have been taken and while the men have reached out to SNAP, they haven't spoken publicly.

"When they're ready to come forward, they will have to do it in their own time," Mark Crawford, state director for SNAP, said. "If they're willing to come forward and speak, they will when they're ready."

In the original Jersey City case, Sita was criminally charged with "an act of penetration with a male juvenile on diverse dates" as well drug distribution while at St. Aloysius Parish from 1976-1982.

On Sept. 15, 1982, Sita pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the unnamed 17-year-old boy.

In January 1983, Sita was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to undergo treatment.

After getting treatment in New Mexico, Sita legally changed his name and joined Ss. Peter and Paul in Boonville, Mo.

Archdiocese of Newark spokesman Jim Goodness said today that the archdiocese informed the Servants of the Paraclete, who operated the counseling center in New Mexico, about Sita's background and church officials here assumed that the Servants made that information available to the Jefferson City Diocese, however there is no way of knowing what the bishop there was told.

But McAllister said parishioners were not informed.

In May 2008 McAllister, now of Roanoke, Va., told church leaders at Ss. Peter and Paul that he was sexually abused by Sita in 1983, when he was a teenager and he and his family were parishioners there.

This morning McAllister said he met the Rev. Howard when he was 13 and the priest abused him mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually.

Dr. Mark McAllister of Roanoke, Va., right, speaks about how he was sexually abused by the Rev. Carmine C. Sita, now known as the Rev. Gerald "Gerry" Howard, outside St. Aloysius Church in Jersey City, where Sita once worked. Sita's photo is held up by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests State Director Mark Crawford during today's news conference.
Photo by Reena Rose Sibayan

"For five years, I was brainwashed, drugged, beaten and tormented," McAllister said, adding that was also given alcohol by the priest. "I was forced to perform masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, and to exhibit myself in the most humiliating of ways. ... I lived my entire adolescence in fear, shame, disgrace, and self-doubt because of this man's sick behavior."

McAllister said he had no recollection of the molestation until the birth of his own son three years ago triggered flashbacks and nightmares.

"The only tools I was ever given by this man to deal with his mental, physical and sexual violations of me were illegal drugs," McAllister, who is a medical doctor, added that later in life he relied on the same coping mechanisms. "My addictions and many other self-destructive behaviors I chose have brought devastation to my career and much pain and suffering to my loved ones and others. I make no excuses for the choices I have made in the past but today I have found there is a better way."

He said he finds healing in speaking out against Sita and the church he says "protected him, secluded him, disguised him and ultimately unleashed him on my hometown with full knowledge that he would devastate more defenseless children."

Goodness said Sita is still registered as a priest of the Newark archdiocese but is not paid and has not performed priestly duties since 1984.

The archdiocese recently began the process of defrocking him, Goodness said.

As McAllister contacted the archdiocese in 2008 "we immediately made an offer of counseling for him and we took his information and at that point I contacted New Jersey authorities and the authorities in Missouri to let them know we had an allegation that had just come foreword 25 years after it happened," Goodness said. "We began our review board process of investigating the situation. We took the allegation very seriously."


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