New sex abuse lawsuit names previously accused Newark Archdiocese priest
By Svetlana Shkolnikova
North Jersey Record
March 08, 2019
|The mother of an anonymous victim of childhood sex abuse leaves a press conference with her attorney Gregory Gianforcaro. They are across the street from the St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Scotch Plains where a lawsuit was announced against the church and the Archdiocese of Newark on behalf of an anonymous victim of Father Kevin Gugliotta who was an associate paster at the church. The alleged victim says Gugliotta sexually abused him when Gugliotta was at St. Batholomews. The mother wished to be anonymous. |
Photo by Chris Pedota
|Attorney, Gregory Gianforcaro representing an alleged victim of sexual abuse and Mark Crawford, with NJ SNAP, a group that advocates for the victims of childhood abuse, are across the street from the St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Scotch Plains announcing a lawsuit against the church and the Archdiocese of Newark on behalf of an anonymous victim of Father Kevin Gugliotta who was an associate paster at the church. The alleged victim says Gugliotta sexually abused him when Gugliotta was at St. Batholomews. |
Photo by Chris Pedota
|The mother of an anonymous victim of childhood sex abuse addresses the media across the street from the St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Scotch Plains where a lawsuit was announced against the church and the Archdiocese of Newark on behalf of an anonymous victim of Father Kevin Gugliotta who was an associate paster at the church. The alleged victim says Gugliotta sexually abused him when Gugliotta was at St. Batholomews. The mother wished to be anonymous. |
Photo by Chris Pedota
A 26-year-old man filed a sexual abuse lawsuit Friday against the Archdiocese of Newark and the Union County Catholic parish where he alleges he was abused by a priest as a minor.
The victim, named under the pseudonym Richard Roe in the complaint, accused the Archdiocese of failing to act on a sexual abuse claim lodged against the Rev. Kevin Gugliotta in 2003 and exposing Roe to abuse by allowing Gugliotta to serve as head of youth ministry at St. Bartholomew the Apostle parish in Scotch Plains.
“Kevin Gugliotta should have never been a part of my client’s life, he should have never had the opportunity to be around my client,” said Greg Gianforcaro, Roe’s attorney, in a press conference announcing the lawsuit. “We warned them about this guy but the Catholic Church just did not get the message.”
Gianforcaro represented the alleged victim of the 2003 complaint, Mr. X, who accused Gugliotta of abusing him in the late 1980s when Gugliotta was a Boy Scout leader.
The Archdiocese suspended Gugliotta following the Mr. X complaint but reinstated him in 2004, ruling that Gugliotta could not be punished because the alleged abuse occurred before he became a priest in 1996.
Gugliotta was removed from the ministry in 2016 after being charged with possession of child pornography at his weekend home in Pennsylvania. He told probation officers that he collected the pornography to get “revenge” on God for his poker losses, according to records.
The Archdiocese included Gugliotta on the list of credibly accused priests it released in February, listing his victims as “multiple (child pornography).”
In a statement, the Archdiocese noted Friday that it had taken steps to laicize, or remove Gugliotta from priesthood, before the latest allegation.
“We will carefully review the details of this allegation and work diligently in collaboration with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Task Force to ensure justice is served,” the statement read. “Most importantly, we wish to express our sincere regret to all victims betrayed by a member of our Church and continue to offer our prayers and support as they continue on their healing journey.”
Roe’s lawsuit also lists St. Bartholomew the Apostle parish and the former Newark Archbishop John J. Myers as defendants. St. Bartholomew referred all questions to the Archdiocese.
Mark Crawford, director of the state’s Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Gugliotta has been released from prison and is now on probation in Pennsylvania.
The abuse he allegedly inflicted on Roe spanned Roe’s high school years and included oral sex, fondling and masturbation, Crawford said. Gugliotta allegedly gave Roe alcohol and abused him both on church property and overnight trips around the state.
Roe’s mother, who asked not to be named, said she knew Gugliotta well and encouraged her son to join his youth ministry because he was acting out.
“I thought it was a good road for him. I had my doubts and I felt guilty for them because not all priests are bad, and I still believe that,” she said. “I dropped my guard.”
Roe’s behavioral issues were compounded by the abuse, his mother alleged, and led to struggles with mental health that took him in and out of treatment facilities. Several years ago, Roe had to be revived with Narcan, a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, she said.
The lawsuit seeks damages for permanent and serious injuries, including mental and emotional distress.
Gianforcaro, the attorney, said the success of Roe’s case is dependent on a proposed state bill that would expand New Jersey’s current two-year statute of limitations for bringing civil actions for sexual abuse.
The bill, S-477, appears on the way to becoming law after receiving overwhelming approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has signaled his support for it.
Crawford, himself a victim of childhood sexual abuse, said he hopes Roe’s case inspires other victims of abuse to come forward. Gianforcaro believes Roe and Mr. X were not Gugliotta’s sole alleged targets.
“We urge them to come forward, to get help, to not suffer in silence,” Crawford said. “We need to eliminate the stigma of sexual abuse of any child, of any man or any woman. The shame doesn’t belong on them, it belongs on the predator and those who are protecting them or giving them safe haven.”