Jersey City Ex-Priest, Guilty in 1982 of Sexual Assault, Charged in Missouri 1980s Abuse Cases

Jersey Journal
April 29, 2010

A former St. Aloysius Church of Jersey City priest, who pleaded guilty in 1982 to sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy, was arrested at his Bloomfield apartment for allegedly sexually assaulting three Missouri men in the 1980s, according to the Boonville Daily News.

The arrest of suspect Gerald Howard, formerly known as the Rev. Carmine Sita, was announced today by Cooper County Prosecutor Doug Abele in Missouri. Abele credited the Bloomfield Police Department for assisting Missouri authorities.

A $1.5 million bond has been set.

The Rev. Carmine Sita is pictured in a photo from 1976, when he began his career at St. Aloysius in Jersey City.

The Missouri newspaper reports that Howard is expected to be charged with three counts of forcible sodomy, three counts of attempted forcible sodomy and two counts of kidnapping. Howard could face 5 years to life in prison if convicted on the sodomy charges. He could face 5 to 15 years if convicted on the kidnapping charges.

In January 1983, he was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to undergo treatment, according to the Star-Ledger. By August of that year, Sita, who had changed his name to Howard, joined Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Boonville, Mo., a parish spokesman there said, after the priest's short stay at the Foundation House, a treatment center in Albuquerque, N.M.

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

"He was clearly molesting again at his earliest opportunity," David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of Abusive Priests (SNAP), said of the allegations in Missouri. "It is extremely callous, reckless and deceitful on the part of the churches that kept (Sita's guilty plea) silent."

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

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