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September 06, 2018

New Jersey launches task force to investigate sexual abuse by clergy members

The move comes less than a month after Pennsylvania's jarring grand jury report

Investigations Churches
St. Barnabas Roman Catholic Church in Bayville, New Jersey. StBarnabas Bayville/Facebook

St. Barnabas Roman Catholic Church in Bayville, New Jersey.

Following the landmark Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse by more than 300 priests across the state, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Thursday the state has launched a criminal task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the state.

The announcement comes a week after New Jersey State Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, called for an investigation, citing the resignation of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick – previously the archbishop of Newark and the bishop of Metuchen – in June and a $180,000 settlement paid to two New Jersey priests in July.

Grewal and the state have established a hotline to report allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members.

Grewal said in a statement that he was “deeply troubled” by the allegations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report. 

“The report revealed that sexual assaults on children — and efforts to cover up such assaults — were far more widespread in Pennsylvania than we ever thought possible,” Grewal said. “We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here. If it did, we will take action against those responsible.”

According to the release from Grewal’s office, former Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino will lead the task force.

“I am prepared to do everything possible to give a voice to those who were abused,” Laurino said in a statement. “I hope that we will finally be able to give these individuals some degree of closure in their lives.”

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