Nine new sex abuse suits filed against Newark Archdiocese include a cleric not before accused

By Abbott Koloff
July 13, 2020

Mark Crawford, left, now an advocate for child sex abused victims, and Father Kenneth Martin. Crawford says that Martin abused him for years.

Exterior photo of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Ridgefield Park, where the Rev. Gerald Sudol allegedly abused children in the 1980s and 1990s. Photographed on 06/04/20.

[with video]

Nine lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church on Monday include allegations of sex abuse against seven clerics — including two priests who worked for years after church officials were told of alleged abuse and a religious brother who worked at a Florida university until two years ago despite a criminal conviction.

Taken together, they allege abuse by four archdiocese priests and three members of religious orders, including one cleric who had not been publicly accused of abuse before Monday.

The priests — Kenneth Martin, Gerald Sudol, Joseph Rice and John Capparelli — were all on a list of credibly accused clerics the archdiocese issued last year. Rice was listed as deceased. Capparelli was fatally shot in Nevada shortly after the list was released.

The suits also include allegations against two members of the Xaverian Brothers religious order who worked at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale in the 1980s. One of them, John Dagwell, was criminally convicted of sex abuse years ago and now lives in Florida. Another brother, Peter Russell, was accused for the first time.

Contardo Omarini, of the Pauline Fathers and Brothers, was accused of abusing three siblings at St. Bernard parish in Plainfield in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Omarini died in 1995, according to an archdiocesan newspaper article.

One of the accusers, Fred Marigliano, the oldest of the three brothers, has been outspoken about the allegations for years and is an advocate for victims of abuse. He walked across New Jersey several years ago to talk to people about sexual abuse and was invited by Cardinal Joseph Tobin to speak at a 2018 prayer service in Newark.

The lawsuits were filed under a law that took effect Dec. 1, 2019, making it easier to bring such complaints by suspending the statute of limitations for two years. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the state's five Catholic dioceses.

Last week, six lawsuits were filed against the order that runs the Delbarton School in Morris Township. They contained new allegations of abuse against five men who were monks of the Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey and one former lay teacher at Delbarton. All of the men had been the subjects of prior sex abuse settlements.

Greg Gianforcaro, an attorney who filed Monday's suits, said in a statement that he and a partner law firm have now filed 18 suits against the Newark Archdiocese. 

He said he anticipates that the filings will "bring accountability and consequences upon the predators, as well as the institutions and their officials who have concealed and harbored known predators for decades without any regard for the safety of children in their care.”

The Newark Archdiocese did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The archdiocese has in the past said it can't comment on matters that are in litigation.

The Xaverian order issued a brief statement saying it had not received a copy of the complaint, "so we are not able to comment at this time. We take every allegation of abuse very seriously, and will carefully review the claims when we have them." St. Joseph High School did not immediately respond to a message.

The new allegations against Martin and Sudol underscore the way their cases were allegedly handled years ago by the Newark Archdiocese.

Martin was accused Monday of abusing a boy at St. Andrew parish in Bayonne from 1981 to 1984. By then, church officials knew about allegations of abuse by Martin, said Mark Crawford, a victims' advocate.

Crawford said he went to the archdiocese officials in 1983 to tell them that Martin abused him for years at St. Andrew, starting in 1978. He said he told a priest about the abuse in 1981. But he said Martin continued working and was later promoted to be personal secretary to then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

Crawford said Martin was "never held accountable" and that he hopes the lawsuits bring "justice long denied and long overdue." Crawford is head of the New Jersey chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP.

Crawford said a younger brother also was abused by Martin and suffered an emotional breakdown. He said he met with McCarrick in the late 1990s, and the archbishop told him, "We will never abandon you or your brother."

Crawford said he sent letters to many cardinals and other church officials in 1998 to outline the abuse. But he said Martin continued working until 2002, when he was removed from ministry amid the growing national scandal in the church. Crawford said his family received a small settlement in the mid-1990s after going before a church review board.

McCarrick, a former cardinal, was defrocked last year amid allegations that he sexually abused children and harassed adult seminarians.

Sudol also continued working for years after a woman said she went to church officials in the 1990s with an allegation that he abused her son. The priest, who had been acquitted in a church trial, was living until 2018 at a Jersey City parish that operated a school when several new accusers came forward. He left that parish and was listed last year as having been permanently removed from ministry.

Monday's filings allege that Sudol abused a boy at St. Francis of Assisi in Ridgefield Park from 1988 to 1994. Lawsuits filed earlier this year allege that he also abused boys at two other churches, in Wallington and Nutley, starting before he was ordained.

Capparelli was accused of abuse while assigned to Holy Trinity parish in Westfield and St. Theresa in Kenilworth in the 1980s. Gianforcaro said in a statement that Capparelli was removed from ministry in 1992 and went on to teach in Newark public schools until he retired in 2013. State records show he was receiving a pension of almost $3,000 per month before he was fatally shot last year.

Rice, who once worked as chaplain at Bergen Regional Health Center in Paramus, is accused of abuse at St. John the Apostle in Linden from 1978 through 1981. He died in 2014, Gianforcaro said.

Dagwell, a Xaverian brother who worked at St. Joseph High School, pleaded guilty in 1988 to charges related to the sexual abuse of a student. He is listed by the order as having been credibly accused of abuse.

He was not required to register as a sex offender and ended up teaching for 15 years at Keiser University, which is based in Fort Lauderdale. Last year, he told USA TODAY that he has stayed away from adolescents and has been "trying hard not to put myself in a situation where I was going to be tempted.”



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