Archdiocese Hears Case of Priest Accused of Abuse

By John Chadwick
The Record [Bergen County, NJ]
January 14, 2005

The Newark Archdiocese is conducting a closed-door hearing this week for a former Ho-Ho-Kus priest accused of misconduct with minors.

The Rev. William J. Dowd, who has been on leave from St. Luke Church since April 2002, faces removal from public ministry or the priesthood if found guilty.

The hearing, which began Tuesday, is taking place in the chancery offices in Newark before three priests from outside the archdiocese. Witnesses are expected to finish testifying today. The priests will then begin deliberations, said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

Dowd was one of about a dozen North Jersey priests implicated during the 2002 church crisis. The scandal, which began with a case in Boston, emboldened waves of accusers nationwide to come forward after years of silence.

Dowd has never been charged with a crime by law enforcement officials, and the accusation falls beyond the statute of limitations.

The church, however, is conducting its own judicial proceeding, one that is routinely used in handling annulments. Authorities in Rome have reviewed the accusation and determined a hearing is warranted, Goodness said.

Some parishioners at St. Luke said they believe Dowd is innocent and want him returned to the church. Shortly after his being placed on leave, they submitted a petition in his favor and demonstrated outside the archdiocese offices.

"There are many who believe in him," said Rosemary Freeman, of Waldwick. "He is a special man and we're hoping he gets back to his ministry."

Dowd, 64, has served as pastor at St. Luke since 1997.


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