Priest Gets 5 Years in Therapy As Child Molester

By Bill Riley
January 16, 1993

EX-ROCKAWAY PASTOR IS ORDERED INTO FACILITY FOR SEX OFFENDERS The former pastor of a Roman Catholic church in Rockaway will spend the next five years under treatment as a compulsive sex offender under the terms of a sentence imposed yesterday in Morristown. The Rev. John G. Pisarcik, 48, who pleaded guilty last year to sexually molesting two boys who attended the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church on Main Street in Rockaway, will spend the five years at the state's Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel, according to Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Karin Kelly-Weisert.

"Under current policy he is not eligible for parole until he serves the entire term under treatment," she explained. Superior Court Judge Stephen Smith noted the five-year term was imposed under a plea bargain between the prosecutor's office and Pisarcik, who has been undergoing therapy at a church-run psychiatric facility in New Mexico since his arrest in October 1991. Smith said Pisarcik was diagnosed as a compulsive, repetitive sex offender. As such, confinement to the Avenel facility was mandatory. Kelly-Weisert said the priest came under investigation last year when one of the victims informed his parents about what was going on. A second youth confirmed he also had been molested by the clergyman, who became pastor of the Rockaway church in 1986 and worked part-time as an instructor at the College of St. Elizabeth. Pisarcik, a priest for 25 years, was suspended from his positions by the Paterson Diocese and was allowed to immediately begin psycho-sexual therapy at the New Mexico facility. "He's been working hard, but he's not yet driven out all the demons," defense lawyer Donald Belsole told the judge. "He's truly a sick man." In November, the U.S. Catholic bishops meeting in Washington, D.C., adopted their first national statement on sexual abuse by priests, in which they pledged to "respond promptly" to all allegations. The bishops were advised that if an allegation is "supposed by sufficient evidence," they should promptly relieve the priest of his duties and refer for medical evaluation and treatment. They were also urged to comply with the law regarding reporting and investigation of such incident. Pisarcik was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault on victims under the age of 13 between Aug. 31, 1989, and his arrest. Pisarcik pleaded guilty to the charges in June, admitting he engaged in sexual misconduct with the boys on various occasions in Morris and Sussex counties. Smith imposed sentence after hearing the priest apologize for his misconduct and listening to statements issued on behalf of the victims and their families. "I accept full responsibility," Pisarcik said, admitting he "violated a sacred trust. I could have been a positive role model, but I wasn't. I have to live with that." Gerald Kelly, a lawyer representing one of the victims, told Smith that the sexual abuse has caused "long-term, far reaching and perhaps irreparable damage" to his client and his family. "Rehabilitation and therapy are absolutely necessary so that this never ever happens again." The mother of the second victim described Pisarcik as a "child molester posing as a priest. I have to ask, how could he face me while he was molesting my son physically, spiritually and emotionally? Our faith and trust have been undermined. We still go to church, but sometimes we wonder why," she said. Kelly-Weisert read a statement from one of the youths who expressed fears that he would become a homosexual or a child molester due to his experiences with Pisarcik. "I trusted him, and he destroyed that trust. My main concern is that he never does this again and puts another child and family through what I am." Smith said the victims' remarks reflected the reality of the trauma Pisarcik inflicted.


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