Diocese Are Sued by Family of Sexually Molested Boy

By Bill Riley
January 19, 1994

The former pastor of a Roman Catholic church in Rockaway was sued yesterday, along with the Diocese of Paterson and its bishop, by the family of a boy the priest admitted sexually molesting. Legal papers filed by attorney Gerald Kelly on behalf of a juvenile identified as "John Doe" and his parents seek punitive damages and other compensation from the Rev. John G. Pisarcik, who is serving a 5-year commitment to the state's Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center for compulsive sex offenders in Avenel. Pisarcik, 49, is accused of committing sexual assault and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the plaintiff, a boy described by authorities in criminal proceedings as being below the age of 13 when the sex acts were committed between August 1989 and October 1991.

In June 1992, Pisarcik pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault that involved the molestation of two parish youths. Only one is a party to the action filed yesterday. Also named as defendants in the suit are Bishop Frank Rodimer and the Diocese of Paterson. The suit claims they should be held liable for damages due to their failure to take steps to determine if Pisarcik was "a homosexual, bisexual or pedophile" before assigning him to duties that would bring him into contact with children at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and its school in Rockaway. Pisarcik, the suit maintains, was the subject of "questions and accusations of psychological maladjustment" prior to his being assigned to the parish in Rockaway in 1986. The legal papers also contend Rodimer and other diocese officials failed to establish policies and guidelines so priests prone to deviant behavior could be more easily identified. Such policies, the suit maintains, would have been justified by child molestation charges filed against priests in the Paterson Diocese and elsewhere. Damages are also sought from the diocese for negligence, breach of contract and fraud in representing that Pisarcik was qualified, trustworthy and qualified to attend to the needs, education and spiritual care of parishioners. Mary Aktay, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Paterson, said no comment would be issued until after diocesan officials and attorneys reviewed the legal papers, which she said have not yet been served. According to the legal papers, "John Doe" suffered irreparable injury from his contact with Pisarcik, who was a priest for 24 years prior to his 1991 arrest. The youth was traumatized and is now subject to bouts of depression, anxiety and humiliation that may cause him lifelong psychological adjustment problems, the suit contends. The suit also maintains Pisarcik's misconduct impaired the youth's ability to have faith in God and Roman Catholicism. Pisarcik, the suit charges, held himself out as "an authority figure unto himself" and taught the belief that "sexual relationships between male and female and male and male were appropriate conduct as long as the parties consented, had respect for each other and, most importantly, had a special friendship." Pisarcik was sentenced last January at a proceeding in which the mother of one boy accused him of being "a child molester posing as a priest." He was immediately suspended from his religious duties in 1991 and spent months at a church-sponsored psycho-sexual treatment center for priests in New Mexico before being sentenced to the state facility.


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