Priest Abuse Lawsuit: Former Student Sues Red Bank Catholic, St. James Church
By Michael L. Diamond
Asbury Park Press
August 27, 2020
RED BANK - A former student at Red Bank Catholic High School was sexually abused in the early 1980s by a priest who has faced accusations of abuse at other assignments, according to a lawsuit recently filed in state Superior Court..
The lawsuit says Francis McGrath abused the student, who is identified only by the initials B.T., in 1982 and 1983, causing permanent emotional and mental anguish. McGrath, now 70, was removed from ministry and left the priesthood in 1995.
The lawsuit was filed July 29 in Mercer County. It names as the defendants the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton, St. James Church in Red Bank and Red Bank Catholic High School.
The complaint marked the latest in a string of allegations accusing Catholic Church officials of sex abuse at the Jersey Shore. Most recently, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was accused in a lawsuit of operating what amounted to a "sex ring" at a beach house in Sea Girt.
Benjamin Andreozzi, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based attorney representing the plaintiff in the Red Bank case, didn't return a call for comment. A spokeswoman with the Diocese of Trenton said she couldn't comment on pending litigation. Messages left for officials with St. James and Red Bank Catholic weren't returned.
The lawsuit said McGrath abused multiple children while serving with the defendants.
It said the defendants either knew or should have known that McGrath was engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior, but they didn't take the steps that were needed to protect the children.
The defendants were sued on six counts, ranging from intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress to civil conspiracy. The lawsuit asks for a jury trial.
McGrath was among dozens of priests listed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Trenton Diocese in February 2019 as having credible allegations of sex abuse made against them.
McGrath, 70, was assigned to St. James Parish in Red Bank from 1978 to 1983; St. Anthonyís in Trenton from 1983 to 1989; and St. Justinís in Toms River from 1989 to 1995.
One individual accused McGrath in 1995 of sexual abuse in the early 1970s, when McGrath was a seminarian for the Diocese of Trenton at St. Mary's Seminary and the University in Baltimore. Another individual accused McGrath in 2002 of abuse in the mid-1970s, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
McGrath was removed from the ministry in 1995, the Diocese of Trenton said, meaning he no longer can function anywhere in any ministerial capacity.
New Jersey's Catholic dioceses released the list of accused priests as part of a "complete review" of abuse allegations and to establish of a victim compensation fund and counseling program.