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Catholic Church, Boy Scouts hit with sex abuse suits under new NJ law extending victims' rights

Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

Like Trauger and Schmear, most of the priests named in the new filings Sunday and Monday had previously been publicly identified as "credibly accused" by their dioceses and removed from ministry -- in some cases decades ago.

Schmear was removed from ministry in 2005 and continues to live a "life of prayer and penance" under archdiocesan monitoring. Trauger, who was accused by more than a dozen minors, was criminally charged earlier this year in Bucks County in a separate abuse case and has denied the charges.

In Camden, new lawsuits were filed naming previously identified alleged abusers including the Rev. Patrick Weaver, formerly of the St. Mary Parish in Cherry Hill; the Rev. Norman T. Connelly, formerly of St. John the Evangelist in Paulsboro; the Rev. Jay Shannon, formerly of St. John's Parish in Collingswood; and the Revs. John Kelly and John Bernard, both of St. Gregory Parish in Magnolia.

The record of McCarrick, the now defrocked 89-year-old cardinal, has also been scrutinized by plaintiff's lawyers, his fellow U.S. bishops and the Vatican since he was first accused of sexually assaulting minors and adult seminarians in the '90s.

Still, new accuser John Bellocchio -- who sued Monday over abuse he says he endured at 14 when McCarrick visited his parish in Hackensack in the 1990s -- said he felt it was important to file suit to learn what exactly Vatican officials knew about McCarrick's conduct and when.

Now 37, Bellocchio said: "He never would have been able to do the things he did and rise up the ranks the way he did without their complicity or consent, implied or otherwise."


(Staff Writer William Bender contributed to this article.)

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