Bergen Priest Faces Archdiocesan Trial on Sex Abuse Charge

The Star-Ledger [Newark, New Jersey]
July 21, 2004

A former Ho-Ho-Kus priest accused of sexually abusing a minor will face a disciplinary proceeding ordered by the Vatican, according to a published report.

The Rev. William J. Dowd was one of about 12 Roman Catholic priests in North Jersey implicated during the 2002 sex abuse scandal that rocked the church, the Record of Bergen County reported today.

The accusation against Dowd, the former pastor of St. Luke's Church, was found to be credible after a review by a panel convened by the Archdiocese of Newark.

The allegation was then forwarded to the Vatican, which deemed the church trial before a panel of archdiocese priests was warranted.

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness declined to discuss the accusation, saying only it dated back many years.

The 64-year-old Dowd has not been charged criminally, and the statute of limitations is believed to have passed.

"There's no assumption of guilt, and people shouldn't draw any inference from this," Goodness told the Record.

However, Dowd could be removed from public ministry or the priesthood if found guilty at the church trial.

Dowd plans to defend against the allegation and has hired a lawyer trained in traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, the Record reported.

Dowd was pastor at St. Luke's from 1997 to April 2002, when he was placed on a leave of absence. Goodness said Dowd's term as St. Luke's pastor has expired. A new pastor was installed July 11.

Parishioners were informed of the church trial on Sunday.


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