RUMSON, NJ - A priest who served for seven years at Holy Cross Church in Rumson was recently named in a sexual abuse complaint filed Tuesday against the Diocese of Trenton.
Fr. Thomas A. Rittenhouse was ordained in 1976 in the Diocese of Trenton and is accused of sexually abusing a minor while assigned to the Rumson church from 1981 to 1982.
He served at Holy Cross from 1981 to 1988.
"These survivors were betrayed by the Diocese of Trenton when they were left vulnerable to abuse, harm and immeasurable trauma," said attorney Greg Gianforcaro in a news release. "Today, the Diocese is pouring salt on the wounds by continuing to dodge accountability. These courageous survivors deserve better."
The priest served from 1977 to around 2002 at parishes around Central Jersey, including Manasquan, Woodbridge, Hamilton, Matawan and Atlantic Highlands, according to Anderson Advocates, the firm representing the case against the Diocese of Trenton under the New Jersey Victims' Rights Bill.
Rittenhouse left Rumson in 1988 for St. Anthony of Padua in Hightstown, where he stayed for about a year. He retired roughly three times between 1996 and 2002 and took a leave of absence in 1997 from an unknown congregation. He died in 2006.
In 2019, Rittenhouse was named among 30 former clergymen who are "credibly accused" of sexual abuse against children by the Diocese of Trenton.
The New Jersey Victims' Rights Bill, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2019, allows adult survivors of child sex abuse to bring a civil lawsuit against abusers and institutions that protected them until the survivor reaches the age of 55, or seven years from the date they discover the cause of their injuries (whichever is later).
A complaint was also filed against the Diocese of Trenton regarding Fr. Michael J. Teta, who is accused of sexually abusing a minor while assigned to St. Joseph's in Bound Brook from 1974 to 1977.
"We are honored to stand with these courageous survivors who are breaking their silence and reclaiming some of the power that was taken from them as kids," said attorney Jeff Anderson. "These survivors are taking a meaningful step to ensure that children are better protected in the future."