NEW JERSEY ARCHBISHOP ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ABUSING 5-YEAR-OLD GIRL IN $50 MILLION LAWSUIT: REPORT. The late Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety faces several accusations of cover-ups
A former New Jersey priest stands accused of molesting a 5-year-old girl in 1976, according to a $50 million lawsuit.
The victim, now 49, reportedly filed the lawsuit in March against the Newark Archdiocese and Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety’s estate.
Gerety passed away in 2016 at the age of 104.
The New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Program offered an initial settlement of $5,000, which the victim rejected, The Record and NorthJersey.com reported.
The lawsuit alleges that Gerety molested the victim when she was a little girl, telling her that his actions were "what God required and wanted" him to do, and that she needed to keep them secret or it would "hurt" her mother.
Gerety allegedly took the girl back to his room in the rectory three or four times, where he touched her sexually and performed lewd acts in front of her.
"As a child, I misguidedly thought that God had specifically sent Gerety to my Mom and family to rescue us and help us get food to eat," the victim wrote in an affidavit. "I felt I had no other option than to do as Gerety instructed."
She also described how the abuse left her "disgusted and repulsed by men" and suffering "bouts of anger" that led to suicidal thoughts in her 20s. She lived with her aunt after the initial abuses and didn’t tell anyone about the abuse until she was 13 years old.
Gerety’s estate also faces a lawsuit that accuses him of covering up alleged abuses by other priests: Gerety allegedly ignored complaints against Peter Cheplic, who served as part of the Seton Hall University campus in the 1980s, and also allegedly abused several men at St. Matthew Church in Ridgefield, which led to his removal from ministry.
Another complaint alleged that Gerety transferred a priest who was criminally convicted of sexually abusing a boy in Jersey City in 1983, helping him change his name after he moved to Missouri.
The Archdiocese of Newark declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying it would be "inappropriate" to discuss or comment on matters in litigation. Church officials noted, though, that the Archdiocese "remains fully committed to transparency and to our long-standing programs to protect the faithful and will continue to look with victims … and bring closure," NJ.com reported.
Gerety was born in Connecticut in 1912, the oldest of nine sons, two of whom became priests. He served for nearly three decades as a parish priest, working with immigrants and gaining a reputation for his social justice and civil rights work.
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