Trenton Diocese Settles Abuse Case

By Bob Jordan
Courier Post
August 17, 2011

A former resident of Mercer County who claimed abuse by his parish priest more than 25 years ago is getting a $200,000 settlement from the Catholic Diocese of Trenton.

But Otis Roberts, now 45, said the money "isn't going to help me. It'll help my kids. I see a couple of doctors because of what happened to me and take medication. What I went through destroyed my faith."

Roberts, who is not married, has an 11-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter.

The diocese encompasses Burlington, Ocean, Mercer and Monmouth counties.

Lawyers for Roberts and four other men claiming abuse by the Rev. Ronald Becker in the 1970s and 1980s said Tuesday the church will pay a total of $1 million to the victims, plus an extra $25,000 for uninsured therapy costs.

The victims were all altar boys at Incarnation parish in Ewing and students at the parish school. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said the five were between the ages of 11 and 16 when molested by Becker.

"The question is, where were the church superiors when this was happening?" Garabedian said. "How could this happen? Didn't anyone suspect anything?"

Garabedian said the church hasn't made adequate reforms.

"And they're still sweeping what they can under the rug," he said.

"That's just uninformed," said Diocese of Trenton spokeswoman Rayanne Bennett.

Bennett said a number of steps are taken "to make sure we create a safe environment for children placed in our care," including adherence to directives from the U.S. Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People "that must be put in place to ensure safe environments," she said.

Roberts, who now lives in Pennsylvania and is a supervisor at a manufacturing business, was the only victim to attend a news conference marking the settlement, which took place across the street from the Diocese Pastoral Center on Lawrenceville Road in Mercer County.

Becker died in 2009. Bennett said Becker was sent to treatment in 1989 after a complaint was made, then defrocked in 2002.

Bennett said the allegations by the five men "were found to be credible. The settlement is being paid from a self-insurance fund previously established by the Diocese."

In 2007 Becker was accused by his niece of abusing her in the early 1980s, Bennett said. The case was investigated by law enforcement, and Becker was arrested and indicted, but died before being tried.


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