Activist Says Catholic Church Needs to Be Open about Priest Abuse

By Linda Stein
The Times of Trenton
October 29, 2009

Activists said the Catholic Church should be doing more to reveal the names of priests who have been linked to sexual abuse, after molestation charges against a former New Jersey priest came to light.

Mark Crawford, director of the New Jersey chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), held a news conference this week outside the Trenton Diocese headquarters to let people know about accusations against the Rev. Zbigniew "Gregory" Patejko, a priest who served in the Trenton Diocese in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

A molestation case against Patejko in North Dakota was settled for an undisclosed sum, but church authorities in New Jersey did not inform congregations where Patejko worked about the case, Crawford said.

Patejko's current whereabouts or whether he remains alive could not be determined.

"We're just calling attention to the fact that this predator worked within the Diocese of Trenton and they have yet to tell anyone," Crawford said. He noted that in 2002, the Catholic bishops had agreed to be "open and transparent" concerning priest sexual abuse but he alleged "they're still keeping secrets."

"We feel it was an absolute omission for not contacting the parishes," Crawford said. "They go at great lengths to keep these things quiet and it's putting other children at risk. It doesn't go away. That's our real concern."

But Rayanne Bennett, a spokeswoman for the Trenton Diocese, said Trenton Diocese officials were not aware of the North Dakota case or any allegations against Patejko.

Bismarck, N.D., resident Richard Jangula, now 52, said he was molested by Patejko at age 18 when Patejko gave him a ride home. Jangula, who says he was a small man and was overpowered by Patejko, who was much larger, was shocked by the assault of someone who he was raised to believe was close to God. He said Patejko molested him several more times but Jangula was afraid to go to his parents, who were devout Catholics, for help.

The incidents allegedly happened in 1976 in North Dakota, where Patejko, who hailed from Poland, was posted after serving two parishes in New Jersey. Patejko was then sent to another parish in North Dakota and finally to Texas before he returned to Poland.

Jangula said he is publicizing his story now because his parents have passed away and he wants to be sure that others who might have been molested get the help they need.


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