Priest abuse scandal: Former North Jersey man filing lawsuit alleging Theodore McCarrick abused him

By Deena Yellin And Abbott Koloff
North Jersey Record
August 07, 2019

Robert M. Hoatson goes public with sexual abuse he endured, starting at the age of 11 or 12. Hoatson said he has not had a day of peace since then. Wednesday, August , 2019
Photo by Kevin R. Wexler

Attorney, Mitchell Garabedian (right), is shown during a press conference, where he named 12 Catholic priests who previously were not named, as those who had sexually abused children. When asked why he believes they were left off the list released by the Catholic Church, Garabedian said, when you take away their religion and robes, they are a bunch of criminals who sat by as children were sexually abused. Robert Hoatson, of the Road to Recovery, is shown on the left. Wednesday, August , 2019

[with video]

A man who grew up in North Jersey plans to file a lawsuit alleging that he was sexually abused as a child by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, his attorney announced Wednesday during a news conference.

Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney, also released the names of 28 New Jersey priests who allegedly abused 30 of his clients who are seeking settlements through a victim's compensation fund set up by the state's five Catholic dioceses.

The New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Program began accepting applications in June and offers a way for victims of clergy abuse to settle their cases without going to court. As of Aug. 5, more than 50 victims filed claims and seven received cash settlements. The process calls for the victims to file claims with independent mediators who evaluate the supporting documentation and, once they establish an accusation's credibility, offer a monetary award.  

Twelve of the priests on the list have never been publicly named before, Garabedian said during the news conference, which was held in West Orange.

The attorney said that if the victims aren't satisfied with the settlements offered by the church, they could file lawsuits in December when a new state law opens a two-year window for such cases to be filed.

Garabedian said that the abuse occurred between 1946 and 1982, when the victims were children.

One victim, James Grein, who grew up in Bergen County, plans to file a lawsuit rather than go through the compensation fund, said the attorney, who declined to reveal where the lawsuit would be filed.

Grein, now 61 and living in Virginia, told the New York Times last year that McCarrick was a close family friend he knew as "Uncle Ted." The report said that in 1958, shortly after McCarrick was ordained as a priest, he baptized Grein at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tenafly.

An attorney who previously represented Grein told that some of the abuse took place at his client's home in Tenafly.

The 88-year-old Cardinal was removed from the priesthood earlier this year after the Vatican found him guilty of sexually abusing children and adults. 

Robert Hoatson of West Orange, a victim's advocate and former priest, announced at the news conference that he was among the 30 people being represented by Garabedian, and that he had been sexually abused as a child by one of the 12 priests on the list who had not been previously identified. Hoatson said he also had been abused by others.

"There's not a day in my life that I've had a peaceful day since I was a child," he said. "It has taken me years to overcome some of the abuse."

He founded the organization Road to Recovery, in part, to help himself heal while advocating for other victims of sexual abuse.

Among the priests named was Ronald Tully, who recently died and has now been accused of abuse by at least 10 people. The priest served decades ago at the now-defunct Pope Pius XXII High School in Passaic and was the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Dover in 2004 when two victims came forward and church officials removed him from ministry.

The Paterson Diocese has paid an estimated $2.1 million to settle claims by nine of Tully's accusers, including one woman, over the years. The latest accuser alleges Tully abused him from 1974 to 1975, according to Garabedian.

Tully had been arrested on Long Island in the late 1970s after two Pope Pius students alleged that he abused them at a vacation home. The students and their families were told by church officials that Tully would never again work with children. They said they were surprised to learn decades later that he was promoted to monsignor.

Also on Garabedian's list was Gerard Sudol, who was removed from ministry last year. The priest had been cleared of an allegation of abuse years before, but was removed from Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church in Jersey City after a new accuser came forward.

The Archdiocese of Newark issued a statement Wednesday asserting that it "is committed to the ongoing support and healing of victims and the acknowledgement of those accused of the sexual abuse of minors. We continue to focus on transparency and accountability and to reinforcing established reporting and prevention policies and programs to protect minors and support victims in our parishes, schools and ministries."

The statement, issued by email, also noted that its compensation fund provides "eligible victims who were sexually abused by clergy of New Jersey Roman Catholic dioceses an efficient alternative to litigation that is both speedy and transparent."

The statement vowed that the Archdiocese will continue to cooperate with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Task Force and local law enforcement officials on investigations. "In line with the Memorandum of Understanding established in 2002 with state and local law enforcement agencies, any new allegations of abuse involving minors, whether by a member of the clergy or a lay employee or volunteer, are immediately reported to law enforcement, and if found credible, the individual is permanently removed from any capacity in the Archdiocese."

Earlier this year, New Jersey's Roman Catholic dioceses released the names of 188 priests and deacons who church officials found to be credibly accused of sexually abusing children over a period of decades. Much of the abuse took place years ago and most of the perpetrators on the list have died.

But Garabedian and other advocates of clergy abuse victims assert that the lists released by the New Jersey dioceses are incomplete.  "How can you trust them to put out a reliable list?" Garabedian said. "Their criteria is too biased. As we speak today, they have no safeguards in place to protect children. The church will do the bare minimum so they won't be prosecuted." 

Garabedian was portrayed by actor Stanley Tucci in the 2016 film "Spotlight," which depicted the unraveling of the priest abuse scandal in Boston in the early 2000s.

New Jersey has recently extended the statute of limitations, which opens the window beginning in December for survivors of sexual abuse to take legal action against their abusers and the institutions that may have protected their perpetrator, whenever the abuse occurred. 

Garabedian stressed that if his clients do not find validation through the compensation program, they will likely take action through a lawsuit. 

A lawsuit provides complete transparency, including various documents, and "secret files that show who knew what and when," he said. 

The church leaders who knew what was happening and allowed it to continue were complicit in the abuse of children, Garabedian said. "Where were the supervisors?"


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