January 14, 2005

Newark Archdiocese conducts first sex abuse trial


Friday, January 14, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff

For the first time since the clergy sex scandal erupted in 2002, the Newark Archdiocese is holding a church trial for a Catholic priest accused of sexual misconduct that could lead to his formal removal from the priesthood.

The priest, the Rev. William Dowd, last worked at St. Luke's Church in Ho-Ho-Kus and once was chaplain to the New York Giants. He voluntarily went on leave in April 2002 after the archdiocese received an allegation against him.

A church-run trial, known as a canonical trial, is the penultimate stage of the long disciplinary process for priests accused of sex abuse. If found guilty, a priest could be laicized -- formally removed from the priesthood -- by the Vatican.

Church trials differ from most criminal or civil trials in several ways. They are closed to the public, and usually three canon lawyers -- often priests -- serve as judges and decide cases. There are no juries, and no traditional cross-examinations.

The Vatican last year directed the archdiocese to hold the trial, after an archdiocesan panel determined an allegation made against Dowd was credible, said James Goodness, an archdiocese spokesman.

Goodness said the Vatican also has directed the archdiocese to hold a trial for another priest accused of sexual misconduct, the Rev. Gerard J. Sudol. Sudol, ordained in 1980, worked at Holy Family in Nutley from 1980 to 1986, St. Francis in Ridgefield Park from 1986 to 1994, and as a hospital chaplain at St. Francis Community Health Center in Jersey City from 1995 to 2002.

Posted by kshaw at January 14, 2005 01:56 AM