TRENTON, NJ – The Administration of Governor Phil Murphy is preparing to take a deep dive into sexual allegations in New Jersey’s Catholic Dioceses.
On Thursday, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the formation of a task force “to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy within the Catholic dioceses of New Jersey, as well as any efforts to cover up such abuse,” according to a release from his office.
“I was deeply troubled to read the allegations contained in last month’s Pennsylvania grand jury report,” said Grewal. “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. 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.”
“No person is above the law and no institution is immune from accountability,” added Grewal. “We will devote whatever resources are necessary to uncover the truth and bring justice to victims. I commend Attorney General Josh Shapiro for his investigation in Pennsylvania, and we will work to ensure that our investigation in New Jersey is done professionally and thoroughly.”
Former Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino, who has prosecuted sex crimes, will lead the task force. The task force is permitted to bring evidence before a state grand jury.
The AG’s office has also established a 24/7, toll-free number to report abuse: (855) 363-6548.
Today’s move was catalyzed by a Pennsylvania grand jury which identified 1,000 alleged sexual abuse victims by Roman Catholic priests in the Keystone State over the course of 70 years. Four of the accused priests spent considerable time in New Jersey. Five states including New Jersey are now formally investigating Catholic Church sexual abuse allegations.
The Archdiocese of Newark leads New Jersey’s Catholic community which includes the Diocese of Trenton, theDiocese of Camden, the Diocese of Paterson, and the Diocese of Metuchen.