Catholic Diocese Claims Priest Was "off Duty" When He Molested Boy As They Attempt to Deflect Responsibility for Sex Crimes
By Ashley Collman
June 2, 2014
The Catholic diocese of Trenton, New Jersey says it wasn't responsible for a teenage boy's molestation because the priest was 'off duty' at the time of the abuse.
Victim Chris Naples claims Reverend Terence McAlinden, now 73, sexually assaulted him hundreds of times over the course of a decade, starting when he was just 13 years old.
Now 42, Naples is suing the diocese in Mercer County since other church leaders knew about the abuse and did nothing.
|Abused: Chris Naples (left) , now 42, claims he was sexually assaulted hundreds of times by Revered Terence McAlinden (right) over more than 10 years. The assaults took place at church and even on trips out of New Jersey|
Naples previously lost a suit against the diocese in Delaware, where some of the abuse allegedly took place. It was during that case that attorneys for the diocese used the controversial argument that they couldn't be held responsible for Rev McAlinden's actions, because abusing a child is not part of a priest's 'duties'.
|Young: Rev McAlinden - aka Father Mac - started abusing Naples at the age of 13. Naples' mother let her son spend time alone with Father Mac because she thought he was a good role model. Above, a school picture of a young Naples|
'How do we determine when a priest is and is not on duty?' one of the justices asked.
'Well, you can determine a priest is not on duty when he is molesting a child, for example,' the diocese lawyer responded. 'A priest abusing a child is absolutely contrary to the pursuit of his master's business, to the work of a diocese.'
Naples told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that he was astounded by the church's argument.
'Any hope I had that the church was concerned about me as a victim or about the conduct of its priests was totally gone,' Naples said. 'They were washing their hands of it. I was shattered. I just couldn’t believe that was one of their arguments.'
Naples first came forward about the decade-long abuse in 2007, when he had a breakdown and nearly committed suicide.
Instead, he came forward to the diocese with the heart-breaking tale of how Rev McAlinden - aka 'Father Mac' - took advantage of him from a vulnerable age.
Naples told the Star-Ledger that he first met Father Mac in the mid-1980s when the priest headed the youth group at St Theresa's Parish in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey.
Father Mac promised to take Naples out for a ride on his boat during their first meeting at a weekend leadership retreat in 1985.
His mother, a highly-religious single mom, agreed to let her young son accompany the priest - thinking Father Mac was a great role model.
Naples said nothing happened on that first trip out on Father Mac's boat 'The Poor Box', but that the outing was soon followed by an overnight trip on the Fourth of July when the priest first molested him.
He claims the priest went on to molest him hundreds of times for the next 10 years, at the youth group's headquarters, the church rectory, Father Mac's parents' house, and on trips to Delaware, Connecticut, New York, Atlantic City and the Virgin Islands.
|Coming clean: Father Mac and Naples ceased their sexual relationship in 1997, and remained on good terms for another 10 years. But keeping their 'secret' caused Naples to have a breakdown and he eventually told his wife and the diocese about the priest's wrongdoings|
erhaps most damning for the diocese is that other leaders in the church knew about the abuse and did nothing.
'He knew how to manipulate. He would say things like "If your mother found out about this special thing we have, she would die."' He called it our little secret. And I thought I was the only one
The abuse went on until 1997, when Naples was in his mid-20s, and the two continued to remain on good terms. Father Mac even introduced him to his current wife Patty, a school teacher. He presided over their wedding, baptized their two children and acted as godfather for one.
Naples says it was Father Mac's psychological control over him that kept him quiet for another 10 years.
'He knew how to manipulate,' Naples said. 'He would say things like, "If your mother found out about this special thing we have, she would die,"' Naples said. 'He called it our little secret. And I thought I was the only one.'
Naples finally told the diocese about Father Mac in 2007, after his wife confronted him for his distant behavior.
|Aftermath: Father Mac lost his position after Naples' revelations. He wasn't expelled from the priesthood however, and still receives his pension. Pictured above opening his door for a New Jersey Star-Ledger reporter. He refused to comment|
Keeping the secret led Naples to become withdrawn and he even contemplated killing himself.
Mrs Naples says she couldn't believe it at first, when her husband revealed he had been abused by the close family friend. But when he broke down in tears in front of her, she knew it was true.
The diocese of Trenton conducted their own investigation into Naples' claims and promptly suspended Rev McAlinden from the ministry.
However, they did not remove him from the priesthood. Rev McAlinden is still technically a priest and receiving his pension which he supplements with work as a real estate agent.
After coming out about the abuse, Naples also realized he wasn't the only one Father Mac abused.
Patrick Newcombe said in a 2011 press conference that the diocese paid him to be quiet about the abuse with a settlement in 1992.
Bob Markulis, who claims he was abused by Father Mac in the 1960s when he was working at his first assignment at Our Lady of Victories Church in Sayreville, received an undisclosed settlement two years ago, his attorney Gregory Gianforcaro said.
However, Rev McAlinden continues to deny he ever abused children. In a December 2012 deposition, he admitted to having an 'intense' sexual relationship with Naples, but that it didn't start until the younger man was 18.
|Accountability: Naples now lives in New Gretna, New Jersey with his wife and two children He says he's suing the diocese not for the money, but to hold them accountable for not protecting children|
He also admitted to sleeping nude with a 'number of' other teen boys in the youth group and that it was 'standard practice' to bathe naked with the young men in his parent's hot tub.
Rev McAlinden remained unapologetic when Naples confronted him in a taped phone call.
'At no time did I feel like I was using your or taking advantage of you,' McAlinden says on the tape, obtained by the Star-Ledger.
Naples won an individual judgement against McAlinden in Delaware for $3million. He hasn't received any of that sum yet and doesn't believe he ever will since the priest has no assets.
He maintains it's not about the money though, but about exposing McAlinden's for 'the monster that he is.'
Naples has now moved on to suing the diocese, which he believes could have done more to protect him and other vulnerable boys.
'They knew about McAlinden. They could have done something about it. And they did what every other diocese did. They kept it hush-hush and paid behind-the-scenes settlements,' Naples said.