The Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey, established in 1981, consists of four New Jersey counties-Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon, and Warren. Disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick served as the diocese’s first bishop and remained in Metuchen until 1986 when he was promoted to the Archdiocese of Newark.
On September 26, 2018, it was announced the Diocese of Metuchen was one of four American Diocese subject to a sex abuse investigation by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the wake of the McCarrick scandal. Eleven Metuchen priests were listed among those priests in New Jersey accused of sexual abuse of minors.
However, these numbers have been criticized by survivor advocates who believe that more Metuchen priests abused children than the Diocese of Metuchen’s self-reporting claim revealed.
Clergy abuse victim advocates claim the Diocese of Metuchen failed to name eight more priests, in addition to one they named previously, accused of child sexual abuse in its list of credibly accused clergy it released last month.
According to Mark Crawford, New Jersey director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), at least two priests alleged to have sexually abused children, in addition to the Rev. Romano Ferraro who they previously named, were also assigned to St. John Vianney Church in the Colonia section.
Edward M. DePaoli, who was a priest with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, served in the Diocese of Metuchen at St. John Vianney between 1988 and 1991. DePaoli was convicted in 1986 of receiving child pornography through the mail, according to a 2005 grand jury report. DePaoli went for treatment in 1986 after his arrest, which proved unsuccessful. In 1996, a nun reported DePaoli’s behavior to Metuchen officials. Nothing was done to DePaoli, however the sister was fired. DePaoli was laicized in 2004.
In 2013, it was announced that the Rev. Kevin Duggan, pastor of St. James the Less in Jamesburg, would leave the ministry until an alleged claim of sexual misconduct was resolved.
Duggan, who served at St. James the Less since August 2009, was accused of sexually abusing a developmentally challenged adult at St. James Parish in Woodbridge more than 20 years ago, the Diocese of Metuchen said at the time.
Parishioners of the church were told of the allegation when a letter from then-Bishop Paul Bootkoski was read during Mass. Duggan, who took himself out of ministry for treatment of alcoholism, was due to return to the parish soon, when the alleged claim of abuse was announced.
Msgr. Raymond Cole was also temporarily removed in 2013 as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in response to an allegation that he sexually abused a minor at St. Mary Parish in South Amboy, where he was associate pastor in the late 1970s.
Law enforcement authorities have declined to pursue charges because the statute of limitations had expired, but Cole was set to face a canonical trial, Bootkoski said at the time.
In 2008, a federal grand jury indicted the Rev. Tomasz Adam Zielinski, a Polish priest who served as a parochial vicar at Christ the King Church in Manville, which is now known as Christ the Redeemer, on charges that he groped a 16-year-old girl sitting next to him on an airplane flight. Zielinski served a year in federal prison and his whereabouts are unknown.
The Rev. Romano Ferraro was a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn but transferred many times by bishops who are complicit in his history of the abuse of children. Bishops Mugavero, Bevilacqua, and McCarrick to name just a few, were aware that Ferraro was a pedophile but continued to provide him with assignments in different dioceses across the country. He spent four years in the Diocese of Metuchen, thanks in large part to then-Bishop McCarrick.
Ferraro was arrested in April 2002. In May 2004, Ferraro was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for repeatedly raping a boy from 1973 to 1980 in Billerica, MA, beginning when the boy was 7 years old. At trial, Ferraro admitted that he sexually abused dozens of boys.
The earliest abuse alleged in civil suits was between 1964 and 1968. Ferraro served as a Navy Chaplain in Florida from 1968 to 1971, where he was dishonorably discharged. In January 2006, Ferraro was sued for sexual abuse in Florida. Then, Ferraro was repeatedly reassigned. He allegedly abused boys in the Brooklyn, Rockville Centre, St. Louis, and Metuchen dioceses. In 1988, Ferraro was suspended from ministry and sent to St. Luke’s Institute.