Former Jersey City Priest in Missouri Court Today, Facing Sex Charges

By Michaelangelo Conte
Jersey Journal
December 13, 2010

A priest convicted of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy while serving at Jersey City's St. Aloysius Church will be in court today to face sex crime charges in Missouri where he is being held on a $1.5 million bail.

The Rev. Gerald Howard, formerly known as the Rev. Carmine Sita, was arrested in April at his Bloomfield home on a warrant from the Cooper County Prosecutor's Office in Missouri following his indictment on three counts of forcible sodomy, three counts of attempted forcible sodomy and two counts of kidnapping, officials said.

Howard has been in custody since his arrest and he is scheduled to appear today before Judge Robert L. Koffman at the Cooper County Courthouse in Boonville as attorneys work through the discovery process.

Cooper County Prosecutor Doug Abele said Howard's trial could start by late summer. He faces up to life in prison. Abele said the alleged crimes occurred from 1983 to 1988 and there are no statutes of limitation on the offenses charged.

In the Jersey City case, Sita was convicted of sexually assaulting the 17-year-old and of drug dealing while serving at St. Aloysius Church from 1976 to 1982.

In January 1983, he was sentenced in New Jersey to five years probation and ordered to undergo treatment. By August 1983, Howard joined Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Boonville, Mo., after a short stay at a New Mexico treatment center.

Prosecutors in Missouri did not name the three alleged victims in the new charges, but in August, former Boonville resident, Dr. Mark McAllister, claimed Howard sexually assaulted him repeatedly during the 1980s while he was an attendee of a Boonville parish. He said Howard would take him on trips, including trips to New Jersey. Last year McAllister won a $600,000 settlement in connection to those claims.

Representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests have criticized church officials for allowing Howard to resume ministerial duties in Missouri where parishioners were unaware of his conviction in New Jersey.

Last year Archdiocese of Newark spokesman Jim Goodness said the church had begun the process of defrocking Howard and it could take years. Howard is now not performing any ministerial duties, Goodness said.

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