Attorney identifies more accused priests in New Jersey

By Mike Catalini
Associated Press
August 8, 2019

Robert M. Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, left, talks about sexual abuse he endured as a child during a news conference as attorney Mitchell Garabedian looks on, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 in West Orange, N.J.
Photo by Kevin R. Wexler

An attorney for childhood victims alleging sexual abuse by Catholic clergy said Wednesday he has turned up the names of 12 New Jersey priests who were not previously disclosed on lists the church released.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian represents 22 men and 8 women who say they were abused as children by New Jersey priests and that the names of 12 of the accused aren’t on lists of more than 180 priests the church released earlier this year.

Garabedian said he was coming forward Wednesday for the sake of “transparency” and so other victims “know they’re not alone.”

He stood alongside Robert Hoatson, who is the president and co-founder of the victim counseling organization Road to Recovery. Hoatson, who had previously said he was abused while involved in a Catholic religious order, said Wednesday he had also been abused by a now deceased priest in the Archdiocese of Newark who was among the dozen Garabedian identified.

Hoatson said he was coming forward to help other victims.

“I didn’t turn my back on the Church. The Church turned its back on me and other victims. You never go back to the one that abused or the people that abused you. It’s not a safe place,” he said.

The 12 new names span all of the state’s dioceses and the Archdiocese of Newark.

In a statement, Newark Archdiocese spokeswoman Maria Margiotta said the church is focused on transparency and accountability and pointed to a victims compensation fund that has been set up by church officials. She also pointed to a 2002 memorandum of understanding between the church and law enforcement that calls for the church to report abuse allegations to state authorities.

Garabedian said it’s unclear how many of the priests named might be deceased, but that the victims told him the abuse went from 1946 to 1982 and that the age of the victims now is between 45 and 87 years old. He said they’ve all gotten compensation offers from the fund that the New Jersey church set up this year in response to the clergy abuse scandal.

New Jersey’s church this year joined more than two dozen other states in identifying credibly accused members of the clergy. New Jersey’s list did not include priests in religious orders who may have served in parishes but were not ordained through dioceses.

The publication of those lists followed a 2018 grand jury report in Pennsylvania that identified 300 predator priests and more than 1,000 victims in that state. Since then, New Jersey’s attorney general announced a task force to conduct a criminal investigation into clergy sexual abuse. No results from that investigation have been announced yet.

New Jersey this year also enacted a new civil statute of limitations law that opens up a two-year window for victims who were barred by previous law from seeking damages.

The Massachusetts-based Garabedian has represented church sex abuse victims for years and was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in the 2015 film “Spotlight,” about The Boston Globe‘s 2002 reporting on clergy abuse in Boston.

West Orange was the location where the parish priest Hoatson accused of abusing him worked.


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