Judge Finds Probable Cause to Charge Priest with Sex Assault
By Justin Zaremba
NJ Advance Media
October 2, 2017
A hearing has found probable cause for the filing of charges against a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a young parishioner two decades ago.
Probable cause was found for charges of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and second-degree sexual assault against the Rev. Michael "Mitch" Walters on Wednesday, according to an official with the Guttenberg court. The case was then transferred from the municipal court up to the Hudson County Superior Court.
A criminal probe into Walters was first announced in 2016 by Road to Recovery, a Livingston-based group that advocates for victims of clergy abuse. Walters, the group alleged, molested a boy at the St. John Nepomucene Parish in Guttenberg in the 1990s.
Months earlier, Walters was removed from ministry at the Our Lady of Sorrows church in South Orange following allegations he molested children at St. Cassian's Parish in Montclair in the early 1980s.
The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office hasn't yet commented on the status of the Guttenberg case.
Charles Carella, the general counsel for the Archdiocese, said he wasn't aware of the Walters' hearing last week and declined comment.
Last month, the Archdiocese of Newark received a protective order shielding the personnel files of Walters and two other priests accused of sexual abuse from being disclosed to the public as part of several civil lawsuits filed by alleged victims of clergy abuse.
Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark, said the archdiocese would continue to cooperate with authorities.
A message placed with Walters' attorney, Frank Arleo, hasn't yet been returned.