Priest Charged for Having Sexual Contact with Teenage Boy in Trenton
By Penny Ray
August 21, 2014
|The Rev. Romannilo Apura |
A priest from the Diocese of Trenton was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly engaging in sexual conduct with a teenage boy.
According to prosecutors in the case, around 11 a.m. Thursday, the Rev. Romannilo Apura, 67, was arrested in his residence at St. Martha Parish in Point Pleasant by detectives from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit.
Prosecutors allege that in the late spring/early summer of this year Apura masturbated a teenage male in a Trenton home. Prosecutors say a second incident occurred in June when Apura allegedly attempted to remove that same victim’s pants.
The Diocese of Trenton reported the allegations to the prosecutor’s office earlier this week, which triggered the investigation. According to a statement on the Diocese’s website, the allegation of sexual abuse committed by Apura against a 16-year-old boy was brought to light on Monday. The statement says that lone allegation is the only complaint received about Apura, and that “it has no connection to St. Martha Parish in Point Pleasant, where he has been serving as pastor.”
The statement also says that Apura has been suspended effective immediately, pending the outcome of the investigation by law enforcement and recommendations from the Diocesan Review Board. The suspension prohibits Apura from celebrating Mass publicly, wearing priestly garb, or presenting himself as a priest, according to the statement.
“Sexual abuse committed by anyone representing the Church is a sin against God and His people, and a betrayal of the trust placed in the Church by families,” the statement says. “We reiterate our firm commitment to the safeguards and initiatives in place to keep our children safe, and we ask the faithful throughout the Diocese to pray for all who may have been harmed in this case.”
Apura has served as pastor of St. Martha Parish since July 2012, and formerly served in the parishes of St. Joachim in Trenton, St. Agnes in Atlantic Highlands, St. Maximilian Kolbe in Toms River, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Moorestown, St. Ann Parish in Keansburg, and St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Trenton, according to the Diocese’s website.
Apura is charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact and fourth-degree attempt to commit criminal sexual contact. He is being held at the Mercer County Correction Center on $100,000 cash or bond. As conditions of bail, Apura must also surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim or any other children.
Anyone with information about the case should contact the prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit at (609) 989-6568. Or tipsters can contact the Diocese of Trenton Abuse Hotline at 1-888-296-2965, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org