April 29, 2006

Sex-case priest gets probation

Ashbury Park Press

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 04/29/06
FREEHOLD A Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting a 9-year-old boy who was a parishioner of St. Thomas More Church in Manalapan more than a decade ago has dodged prison but was given a five-year probation term.

Child welfare advocates said Friday's sentencing of the Rev. Joseph McHugh, 60, in Superior Court marks one of the few clergy abuse cases to go through the criminal courts in New Jersey.

"Usually, the statute of limitations is exceeded because attacks happen when the victim is very young, and it can take years to find the courage to come forward," said Mendham resident Ben "Buddy" Cotton, a state director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). Cotton attended the sentencing.

McHugh was accused of a series of abuses from 1994, when the victim was 9, to 1996. The attacks occurred when McHugh would drive the boy to church-affiliated youth basketball games, according to Gregory G. Gianforcaro, attorney for the victim and his family.

Posted by kshaw at April 29, 2006 08:00 AM