More than three dozen former priests who served at Hudson County parishes are among a list of 63 ex-clergymen who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.
The Archdiocese of Newark took the historic step of releasing the names and the parishes where the former priests served Wednesday morning. The list included 42 who served in Hudson County for at least part of their careers, and it showed how priests were easily shuffled from one parish to another.
“We express genuine sorrow and regret to the victims who put their trust in a member of the church only to have that trust so profoundly betrayed,” Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin said in a statement posted Wednesday on the archdiocese website.
“Additionally, the disclosure of the names is part of our ongoing commitment to protect our children and to ensure safe environments for minors” the statement said. The list did not say in which parish the alleged abuse occurred.
A Jersey City woman who attended St. John the Baptist grammar school said she is not surprised by the list.
“People knew what was going on,” said the woman, who asked not to be named for fear of harassment. “They just did nothing about it.”
Robert Svec is one of two priests, both deceased, on the list who served at St. John the Baptist. The other is Robert Marotta.
Svec, who was at St. John from 1968 to 1977, “was in charge of the altar boys,” the woman said. “One of the teachers knew (what was going on) and when Svec was asking for one altar boy, the teacher would send two or three, so nothing would happen. But still, it shows that people knew and didn’t stop it.”
Svec was one of 19 priests and a deacon who served in Hudson County who were named for the first time Wednesday.
The others are Robert Stauffer, Edward Stanley, Mario Salazar, Jesus Orlando Rengifo Michael O’Brien, Deacon Thomas Mousley, John Morel, William McCann, Robert Marotta, Francis T. Maione, Alan Guglielmo, Lawrence Gadek, Joseph P. Fagan, John Flanaga, Artro Crespo, James A. Carey, John X. Bergeur, John C. Bouton and Jorge Batista.
It is unclear if any of these former priests who are still living will be prosecuted. Officials with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office could not be reached Wednesday.
Twenty-four of the priests are no longer alive, while 14 were permanently removed from ministry. Four were liacized or formally stripped of their standing as clergy. Nearly half of the priests had never been publicly accused of abusing minors.
Mark Crawford, director of the state regional office of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said release of the list is a step in the right direction, but it comes far too late.
“SNAP has been calling for such a list for more than 20 years,” said Crawford, a priest abuse victim. “We are grateful to our state attorney general and civil authorities who have sought to finally investigate the five New Jersey dioceses and has brought about the impetus for this long overdue disclosure.”
In September, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal set up a task force to investigate sexual abuse by members of the clergy within the state’s Catholic dioceses, as well as any efforts to cover up such abuse. The task force has subpoena power to compel testimony and demand the production of documents.
Grewal released a statement Wednesday saying that he is pleased the actions of his office have prompted the release of the priests’ names. He said the task force continues to investigate and that “no institution or individual is immune from accountability.”
The list released Wednesday includes priests who served at parishes, schools, or hospitals in Jersey City, Bayonne, Union City, Hoboken, Kearny, North Bergen, West New York, Guttenberg, Secaucus, East Newark and Weehawken. Of the 42 priests on the sex abuser list, four of them served the Jersey City parishes of St. Aloysius, St. Mary and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Three priests on the list served at St. Joseph of the Palisades in West New York and St. Henry’s in Bayonne.
Crawford said the list appears to include only diocesan priests and not priests who are members of religious orders, such as Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits. He said the archdiocese would know if there were allegations of sexual misconduct by priests in religious orders who were or are assigned in Hudson County.
In January, the USA Northeast Province Jesuits, which represents Jesuit priests in northern New Jersey and several other states, released a list of its priests who were accused of sexual misconduct. Nine of the priests had ties to Jersey City.
Many priests on the Newark archdiocese’s list were assigned to multiple parishes during their careers. Svec also served at St. Henry’s and St. Mary, Star of the Sea, both in Bayonne, as well as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Jersey City.
Alan Guglielmo had nearly 20 assignments in the archdiocese. In Hudson County, he was assigned to Immaculate Conception in Secaucus and St. Mary in Jersey City. He was also chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital in Hoboken and spiritual director at the Christian Youth Organization in Jersey City. Guglielmo was later permanently removed from the ministry.
All five New Jersey Roman Catholic dioceses are participating in a recently established, independent Victim Compensation Program for minors sexually abused by priests.
“While we recognize that no degree of financial compensation can adequately address the suffering endured, this program is a genuine expression of our remorse and our desire to make amends for past transgressions,” Tobin said. “It is my sincere hope that this program will meaningfully assist victims in their healing and will bring them a measure of peace.”
The archdiocese can be reached at 973-497-4000.
The archdiocese is currently involved in civil litigation related to allegations of the sexual abuse of minors and the list does not include the names of priests involved in the litigation. Tobin said the names of all priests on the list were previously reported to law enforcement agencies.
Local priests have been instructed to refer all questions regarding the list to the archdiocese. The archdiocese did not return a call seeking the dates the priest were assigned to the various parishes.