Poll: Is $650g a Fair Settlement for Molestation Claims Brought against Former Jersey City Priest?

Jersey Journal
May 10, 2013

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark has paid $650,000 to settle molestation claims brought by five men against the Rev. Carmen Sita, a former Jersey City priest.

The Archdiocese of Newark has paid $650,000 to settle molestation claims brought by five men against a former Jersey City priest now awaiting trial on unrelated sex charges in Missouri, The Star-Ledger reported yesterday.

The settlement, announced yesterday by a lawyer for the men, recalls one of the darker chapters of the archdiocese's role in the clergy sex abuse crisis.

The Rev. Carmen Sita pleaded guilty in 1982 to sexually assaulting a teenage boy at St. Aloysius Church in Jersey City. Sentenced to five months' probation, Sita changed his name to Gerald Howard and was soon shuffled to a parish in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., The Ledger reported.

The Newark archbishop at the time, Peter Gerety, never informed the public of the name change. Howard would go on to molest at least three more children in Missouri, authorities said. Charged in 2010, he remains jailed on $1.5 million bond while he awaits trial.

"It frankly horrifies me that this priest was allowed to move on and run amok," said Greg Gianforcaro, the Phillipsburg attorney who announced yesterday's settlement. "There is no excuse for it."

Gianforcaro's clients were young parishioners at St. Aloysius when Howard allegedly molested them in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Nearly all of the abuse took place in the rectory of the Jersey City church, the attorney told The Ledger.

The five came forward separately in recent years after reading about Howard's arrest and his previous identity as Sita. The men, now in their 40s, agreed to mediation with the archdiocese after two initially filed lawsuits, Gianforcaro said.

He declined to say how the settlement would be split among the alleged victims, four of whom still live in New Jersey.








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