What’s next for NJ priests outed for alleged sex abuse?

David Madden
February 14, 2019 - 1:19 pm
Priest
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ROSELAND, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — With the release of almost 200 names of Catholic clergy accused of sexual assault in New Jersey, a lot of people are wondering what’s next.

That question was put to a leading legal expert.

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Elie Honig was a top state and federal prosecutor who now is part of the Lowenstein Sandler law firm. He works for Rutgers University and opines for CNN. He thinks the list of 188 priests and deacons is a "good start" for church leaders, although credit really goes to N.J. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who’s been investigating the priest abuse issue for months.

"He took the initiative to announce this program, which essentially forced the hand of the dioceses to come clean to the extent that they’re able," Honig said. "Now I wouldn’t necessarily take their list to be all inclusive. If I was in the attorney general’s position, I would continue to do my own thorough investigation, and it appears he’s doing exactly that."

Whether that will lead to criminal charges against any surviving priests remains to be seen. The statute of limitations in New Jersey is a bit more liberal when it comes to sexual assault. But the passage of time also is a factor to consider.

RELATED: 5 NJ Catholic dioceses finance compensation fund for abuse victims

"When you have crimes that happened a long time ago, it’s going to be really hard, if not impossible, to get physical evidence — unlike if an event happened today, you could get a rape kit for example," Honig added. "So it’s going to be hard to gather physical evidence. Other forensics will be gone or have dissipated. Memories fade over time.”

The church is offering victims an independent route to settle civil claims. Honig supports an idea to provide them with a window to file their own claims in court.