April 28, 2006

Pedophile Priest Gets Probation In Abuse Case

NBC 10

FREEHOLD, N.J. -- A Catholic priest accused of molesting a 9-year-old boy a decade ago after taking him to basketball games was sentenced to five years of probation Friday in a deal that dropped a sexual assault charge to spare the victim from having to testify.

The Rev. Joseph McHugh, who was removed from active ministry about 10 years ago, had pleaded guilty in October to a single count of endangering the welfare of a child.

The victim, who is now 21, declined to speak in court, but said through his lawyer he is glad McHugh had to face justice. However, other victims of clergy sexual abuse, including the priest who replaced McHugh at St. Thomas More parish in Manalapan, blasted the deal.

"Joseph McHugh, though he made many good choices in his life, chose the worst kind of evil," said the Rev. John Bambrick, who said he was molested by priests while studying to become one.

State Superior Court Judge Bette Uhrmacher sentenced McHugh to probation, fined him $1,000 and required he register with the state as a sex offender. For a person with no prior criminal record, like McHugh, the charge does not carry a presumption of jail time.

Posted by kshaw at April 28, 2006 05:40 PM