Man Says Ex-woodbridge Priest Sexually Abused Him in "80s
By Carly Baldwin
December 6, 2019
|The accused priest is Romano Ferraro, who was stationed at St. James in Woodbridge, St. John Vianney in Colonia and Our Lady of Mount Virgin in Middlesex borough in the 1980s. (Shutterstock)|
COLONIA, NJ — A defrocked Catholic priest who is currently in prison for raping a 7-year-old boy has now been hit this week with yet a new lawsuit, by a New Jersey man accusing the priest of sexually molesting him multiple times when he was an altar boy in Middlesex borough.
The accused priest is Romano Ferraro, and the alleged abuse started in 1984, according to the lawsuit, which was obtained by Patch. At the time, Ferraro was stationed at both St. James in Woodbridge and St. John Vianney in Colonia, as well as at Our Lady of Mount Virgin in Middlesex borough.
The victim said he was 11 to 14 at the time, and was an altar boy at Our Lady of Mount Virgin.
The man who filed it is now 46 and still lives in New Jersey. He says that Ferraro started molesting him when he was about 11 years old. In the suit, he is identified only by his initials, B.D.S. He said he was raised in a devout Catholic family and he attended Our Lady of Mount Virgin School in Middlesex.
He said that Ferraro "took an interest" in him and "gave him special treatment," according to the suit. He said the priest also "groomed" his family to gain their trust, coming to their doorstep with snack cakes and staying to watch TV in the evenings with his family.
The man said it was after Mass one day, while waiting for his mother to pick him up, that Ferraro "pulled his pants down" and sexually assaulted him, including fondling him.
The priest continued to sexually assault the boy "numerous" times for the next three years, according to the lawsuit. Most of the assaults occurred in the boy's own home, which the priest would visit often, he said. On one weekend, Ferraro took the boy on a trip to Cape May, and sodomized him during an overnight stay at St. Rita's parish in Staten Island before they drove down to the beach, the man said.
Catholic church knew Ferraro had a problem, group says
Patch has written about Roman Ferraro before.
A watchdog group named Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said earlier this year that the Catholic church was aware Ferraro was accused of abusing boys. The group also says the church transferred him to work in Middlesex County churches even after he had been accused of molesting boys on Long Island.
Ferraro entered seminary in or about 1954 and was ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Brooklyn in May, 1960, said Jeff Herman, the lawyer representing B.D.S. Prior to ordination, Ferraro left the seminary because he was conflicted over his sexual proclivity for boys, according to Herman. However, diocesean officials, advised by Ferraro of this issue, convinced him to return to the seminary and continue to pursue a career in the priesthood, said Herman.
"The Diocese of Brooklyn owed a duty to warn parishioners, particularly children, who would have contacts with Father Ferraro in his parish assignments that he presented a foreseeable risk of child sexual abuse," wrote Herman in the lawsuit.
SNAP also says the Metuchen diocese should have been aware of complaints against Ferraro, as they uncovered a personnel file full of allegations against him dating back to the 1970s.
It was now-disgraced Bishop Theodore McCarrick — who was just accused this week of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Hackensack in the 1990s — who personally approved Ferraro's transfer to New Jersey.
Patrick Noaker, an attorney representing several of Ferraro's alleged victims, obtained several private letters from McCarrick's personnel file. These letters, which you can read here, are dated from the 1970s onwards and they detail concerns other priests had about Ferraro. One memo, dated 1977, was sent from Monsignor Anthony Bevilacqua, who went on to become the archbishop of Philadelphia. It specifically notes two incidents where Ferraro was accused of molesting boys while he was stationed at St. Joseph's parish in Kings Park, Long Island.
"A small son of the family claimed that Father Ferraro had sexually touched him twice in the evening," read the memo. "Father Ferraro claims that his major problem is with boys 13 to 15 years of age ... he wants to go to a psychiatrist so he can better control himself."
You can read those letters here: https://noakerlaw.com/wp-conte...
Ferraro was transferred from the diocese of Brooklyn to the Metuchen Diocese in the mid-1980s. He served at three churches in Middlesex County, first at St. James in 1984 and then at St. John Vianney Church from 1985-1986, as well as a short stint at Our Lady of Mount Virgin in Middlesex borough in between.
Tara Smith, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Metuchen, told MyCentralJersey that at the time of his transfer to New Jersey, McCarrick was not aware of allegations against Ferraro.
McCarrick is the former archbishop of Newark, who eventually rose to cardinal, the highest position in the Catholic Church in the United States. McCarrick was defrocked by Pope Francis in February of this year, after the Vatican found him guilty of sex crimes against adults and minors and abuse of power.
There could be "hundreds of victims"
Herman told MyCentralJersey he is aware of a "couple dozen" accusers of Ferraro, but said, "I would not be surprised if a guy like Ferraro has hundreds of victims."
"Father Ferraro sexually abused boys from the beginning of his tenure as a priest, preferring boys ages 11 – 15," wrote Herman. "He sexually abused numerous children over decades as an active priest."
In fact, "In 1988-89, after yet another allegation of child sexual abuse, the Diocese of Brooklyn sent Father Ferraro to St. Luke Institute, an evaluation and treatment facility for pedophile clergy in Maryland," according to Herman.
Ferraro is currently in prison: In 2005, he was charged and convicted of raping a 7-year-old boy in Billerica, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1980, and sentenced to life in prison, according to Herman's website. At his trial, Ferraro publicly admitted he was pedophile who abused perhaps dozens of boys.
Although Ferraro was sentenced to life in prison, he is up for parole.
There are civil suits filed against Ferraro that allege abuse that began in 1964-68, according to Herman's website.
Ferraro was transferred all over the U.S. by the Catholic church: Before coming to the New York/New Jersey area, he worked in Florida as a Navy chaplain from 1968-71 and was dishonorably discharged. He was later sued by victims in Florida for abuse there.
He's been accused of sexually abusing children in Brooklyn, Rockville Centre on Long Island and in St. Louis, Missouri, according to Herman.
Was he at your church? Ferraro's history in Middlesex County:
1984: St. James; Woodbridge, NJ
1984-1985: Our Lady of Mount Virgin; Middlesex, NJ
1985-1986: St. John Vianney; Colonia, NJ