April 29, 2006

Priest gets probation in a deal

Philadelphia Inquirer

By Wayne Parry
Associated Press
FREEHOLD - 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 yesterday 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, 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 attorney that he was 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. Bambrick, who served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Maple Shade in the early 1990s, said he had tried to warn Trenton Diocese officials about McHugh.

Posted by kshaw at April 29, 2006 08:22 AM