April 03, 2006

Six accusing former Brick pastor of abuse

Asbury Park Press

TOMS RIVER A Dover Township attorney has filed a lawsuit seeking a total of $30 million in damages for six men who allege they were molested as children by a minister at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Brick throughout the 1970s.

The lawsuit alleges the minister, identified in court papers only by the initials R.L.S., used his position with the church on Salmon Street to gain the trust of boys as young as 5 and then molest them. It alleges another pastor of the church, identified in court papers by the initials J.M.E., turned a blind eye to the misconduct, allowing it to continue for years.

The lawsuit also alleges that the church itself has a policy of masking the identities of pedophiles while allowing them to continue working as ministers. Church officials denied that, but said it was too early to comment on the molestation allegations against the church's former pastor, whom they identified as Robert L. Slegel.

Civil suits involving molestation accusations against clergymen have burgeoned in recent years, sparked in part by the highly publicized criminal prosecution in 2002 of former Catholic priest John Geoghan in Massachusetts.

Posted by kshaw at April 3, 2006 09:28 AM