NJ Priest Criminally Charged with Sexual Abuse
A New Jersey Priest Recently Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Minors
A New Jersey priest was arrested at the end of November in Ocean County. Patrick J. Kuffner is facing “three counts of sexual assault of a minor between the ages of 13 and 16.” The story was published on App.com, which is part of the USA Today network of news. According to the Diocese of Metuchen, the incidents of abuse against three children took place more than 30 years ago in Massachusetts, before Kuffner became ordained as a priest.
Kuffner was the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Virgin Parish in Middlesex, NJ. He has, according to Anthony P. Kearns III, been on a leave of absence since the allegations were made. Kearns is the chancellor and spokesperson for the Diocese of Metuchen. He further stated that “no cleric in the diocese of Metuchen, who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse, is in active ministry.”
New Jersey Diocese is Cooperating with Prosecutors
The diocese appears committed to helping victims of clergy sexual abuse. Kearns said that when they learned of these allegations, they immediately reported it to the prosecutors’ office.
In 2002, the diocese conducted an audit and stated they turned over information about every “alleged case of sexual abuse or misconduct.” Another review conducted by an outside law firm in February 2019, to compile the list of “credibly accused” placed Kuffner on the list.
Victims of Child Sexual Abuse Have Extended Time to File Lawsuits Against Their Abusers
While criminal charges are pending against 72-year-old Kuffner, the victims may consider taking advantage of New Jersey’s new statute of limitations regarding childhood sexual abuse. The law went into effect on December 1, 2019, and provides ample time for victims of sexual abuse to pursue civil remedies in a court of law. The new statute of limitations gives individuals who were sexually abused by priests as children two years to file a lawsuit against their abuser and the church. This window means that anyone previously time-barred from trying to obtain compensation for injuries that resulted from their sexual abuse may now do so.
While the alleged abuse by Kuffner occurred before he was ordained as a priest, it is a good reminder of how some dioceses are cooperating with attempts to stop the rampant sexual abuse in the Catholic church. A statement from the Metuchen diocese said that since the initial 2002 audit, they have “required background checks, child protection training for all who work or volunteer with children and has implemented zero-tolerance policies.”
New Jersey Law Opens the Door to More Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Many credible accusations of sexual abuse date back to the 1980s. Hopefully, as more attention is drawn to the horrors of child sexual abuse, more religious, social, and educational organizations will continue to take steps to protect the children in their care better.
In the meantime, states like New Jersey are allowing victims to collect compensation from their abusers. It is not too late for you to file a civil lawsuit against the priest or church member who abused you.
Contact Our Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP to Learn More About Filing a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in New Jersey
You can reach our compassionate and discrete sexual abuse lawyers at 800-403-6191.
We are reviewing sexual abuse cases for victims in New Jersey. Call us today for a free evaluation of your sexual abuse claim.