Hearing Set for Bay Head Priest in Sex Abuse Case Legal Proceedings in Ireland Could Take 18 Months

By Matt Porio
Ocean County Observer
March 28, 2004

A hearing to decide whether a jury or a judge will hear the case against Father Patrick Magee, the Bay Head priest currently being held in Northern Ireland on sexual abuse charges, has been rescheduled for April 7, according to an official with the Diocese of Trenton.

Steven Emery, spokesman for the Diocese of Trenton, said the legal proceedings against Magee, the pastor of Sacred Heart Church, could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

Father Magee '...' (is) going to be in Ireland for quite a while, Emery said.

Magee, 63, was charged on Dec. 31 with an act of gross indecency on or toward a child between Jan. 1, 1965, and Dec. 31, 1969. He was arrested when he returned to Ireland for a visit, officials said.

The April 7 hearing for Magee has been rescheduled twice. It was originally to be held on Feb. 25, and then again on Wednesday.

Emery said the diocese is not involved with the legal representation of Magee, who was pastor at Sacred Heart for two years, after serving as pastor of St. Martha's Church in Point Pleasant for 20 years.

We're obviously trying to follow the case with interest. But beyond that we don't have any involvement in representing Father Magee, Emery said.

Emery said Magee, a native of Northern Ireland, is still free on bail, but his passport is still being held by authorities in the country.

The priest went to visit family there, but Emery said we can't confirm who he is living with.

Emery said he is not aware of any communication between Magee and officials from the diocese. Neither did Emery know of any communication between Magee and the community at Sacred Heart.

Emery said Rev. Michael Waites, formerly of St. Denis Church in Manasquan, is serving as the intermim parish administrator.

The diocese will not make any decisions about Magee's position until after he is tried, Emery said.

This has to play out, he said.

About a week after Magee's arrest, two more charges against the pastor surfaced, but both involved adults and went back several years, Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Robert Gasser said at the time. No formal charges were filed in either case, which both involved allegations of improper touching.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.