Lawyers name more accused New Jersey predator priests
ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — Attorneys for a man seeking to force New Jersey’s five Roman Catholic dioceses to release their complete clergy abuse records issued their own list Monday of more than 300 priests accused of child sexual abuse.
More than 100 of the names released by attorney Jeff Anderson Monday were not on the lists of credibly accused priests distributed by New Jersey’s dioceses in February.
The Minnesota-based Anderson said his release includes religious order priests such as Jesuits as well as priests who are the subject of pending lawsuits, many of whom were not named by the dioceses.
Anderson represents Edward Hanratty, who alleges he was abused decades ago by a priest he said Monday was still working at a church until last year. His lawsuit seeks to force the dioceses to release all files on accused priests, including where they worked and what they are alleged to have done.
Hanratty said he came forward last August after reading a grand jury report in Pennsylvania that detailed allegations against more than 300 priests involving more than 1,000 victims.
“I published my story and instantly my inbox was flooded with names I hadn’t heard of in 30 years,” he said. “They said everything from ‘I had my suspicions and I support you,’ to ‘It happened to me and the way you described it is exactly what I lived with and I still have nightmares.’”
Hanratty’s wife and others searched for the priest and found he was working at a church in Jersey City. They also researched why he had been dismissed from the parish where Hanratty attended church in the mid-1990s.
“They knew the circumstances of why he left; why weren’t my parents and all the other parent informed at the time?” Hanratty said. “If I was abducted by a stranger I would have gotten grief counseling, but we were taught to trust people that we were supposed to trust and there was no handbook for what to do when that trust was violated.”
The lawsuit is similar to others Anderson has filed in Minnesota, Illinois, California and New York that seek the disclosure of all diocesan files on priests credibly accused of sexual abuse.
In Minnesota, Anderson said, a suit forced the release of 10,000 pages of documents and nearly 60 additional priests’ names after an original release of 33 names. Lawsuits in the other states are pending.
On the heels of Pennsylvania’s grand jury report, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal formed a task force last fall to conduct a criminal investigation into sexual abuse by clergy in the state.
In an emailed statement, the Archdiocese of Newark said Monday it continues “to focus on transparency and accountability and to reinforcing established reporting and prevention policies and programs to protect minors and support victims in our parishes, schools and ministries.”
“Our full and proactive collaboration with state and local law enforcement officials and with the Attorney General’s office continues and remains a priority,” the statement said.