Many parishioners in the Archdiocese of Newark look to the Roman Catholic Church for guidance on their spiritual journey, seeking instruction by revered religious leaders. The congregation shares their belief in God through the Holy Communion and reads passages in the Bible to strengthen their faith.
Sadly, clergy abuse in New Jersey dioceses and the archdiocese continues to be a severe problem that has harmed parishioners and outsiders for decades.
Church leaders in the United States have stonewalled law enforcement investigating allegations of sexual abuse. Without a quick response by detectives, young adults and children are not protected from the actions of predatory priests.
Many Cardinals, Bishops, Parish pastors, and other members of the clergy have turned a blind eye to the problem. Only a few religious leaders have taken appropriate measures after hearing accusers alleging that the priest assaulted innocent victims.
A Newark Archdiocese Child Sex Abuse Attorney Can Help
The dedicated attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represent victims of sexual abuse to ensure they receive adequate compensation for their injuries. In recent years, our law firm has collected over $250 million in negotiated settlements and court trial verdicts on behalf of our clients.
We accept all claims and lawsuits through a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures you will never pay a legal fee until we have successfully resolved your case for financial compensation.
Our legal team handles cases in all Catholic dioceses and the archdiocese, including:
- Archdiocese of Newark
- Diocese of Camden
- Diocese of Metuchen
- Diocese of Paterson
- Diocese of Trenton
Victims’ Silence Can Last Decades
Many predatory priests use the fear of God to silence their abused victims to ensure they never tell others what happened. The silence, which can last decades, empowers the cleric abuser to continue their inappropriate sexual behavior on the same victim or others. In some cases, the Archdiocese Review Board will initiate a Church tribunal to investigate accusations of sexual abuse of children. The church officials will gather evidence, speak to witnesses and lay staff, and hear testimony from victims to determine if the evidence was credible.
Only when the Church deems the evidence credible do their officials turn over the proof to a grand jury or local District Attorney’s Office. At that point, it can take years for police detectives to conduct a thorough investigation. IF the victim must wait for a grand jury report, the statute of limitations might expire, forcing the court to drop all charges.
Sexual Violence Laws in New Jersey
In New Jersey, sexual abuse of minors is defined as unwelcome, unwanted, or coercive sexual behavior. Inappropriate sexual contact could take many forms, from sexual harassment to sodomy or rape. The molestation might involve sexual stalking in person or on the Internet, penetration, inappropriate touching, or other sexual assault without consent of the victim.
By law, consent for sexual activity cannot be given by any person twelve years old or younger. Children who are at least thirteen years of age, but less than sixteen years, cannot give consent if the other participant is more than four years older than his or her victim.
Victims with diminished mental capacity cannot give consent for sexual activity. These victims might have a developmental disability, are unconscious at the time, high on medications, or impaired on drugs or alcohol.
Mandatory Reporting Requirements
Every person with knowledge of sexual misconduct is required to report the incident to appropriate law enforcement agencies. Parties responsible for reporting might include individuals with reasonable cause to suspect a minor is a victim of child sex abuse. Individuals who believe sexual molestation occurred can call (877) 652-2873 immediately to report what they know.
Victim Steps Forward to Allege Abuse
In January 2020, an alleged victim, who once had a strong faith in God founded in the edicts of the Roman Catholic Church, to allege that Reverend Eugene Heydricks sexually assaulted him years ago. The assaults allegedly occurred at the Verona, NJ Our Lady of the Lake Parish.
The alleged sexual abuse survivor was able to file a new claim even though the statute of limitations in his case had expired years ago. On December 1, 2019, the New Jersey Legislature extended the restrictions of the statute of limitations to give sexual molestation victims an additional two years to file a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse.
This victim holds accountable the former priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, who died in 2007, and the Archdiocese of Newark, naming them as defendants in the lawsuit. In the early 2000s, Church officials placed the Reverend on administrative leave after police caught the priest in Montréal soliciting sex from an underage male prostitute.
Reverend Heydricks pled guilty to the charges and received a two-year unsupervised probation sentence. During the Reverend’s career, and after his ordination into the Roman Catholic Church in 1981, he served parishioners at the Ridgewood Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Verona, NJ, our Lady of the Lake Parish, Park Ridge our Lady of Mercy Parish, Fairview Church of St. John the Baptist Parish, and Guttenberg St. John Nepomucene Church.
The victim claims that the Reverend sexually assaulted him when he was a fourteen-year-old teenage boy in 1990. The alleged incidents with the eighth-grade altar boy occurred at Our Lady of the Lake Elementary School.
The suit will likely involve evidence held by the Archbishop of Newark, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, and the former priest.
The Devastating Effects of Victim Blaming
For decades, the Roman Catholic Church has known the seriousness of the inappropriate sexual conduct of Pastors, Cardinals, Bishops, religious order priests, and other religious leaders. Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, and religious orders have overseen the Church’s response over the last decade. Only recently have they begun releasing previously hidden evidence to the congregation and public.
Unfortunately, the victim-blaming has been used at the local level for decades when allegations of misconduct arose involving a Parish priest or other religious leader. Blaming the victim placed shame on the alleged sexual molestation survivor and diminished the strength of the Catholic community.
State laws, including those in New Jersey, require every individual with information concerning sexual misconduct to report what they know to local law enforcement and judicial authorities. Being proactive can ensure that the accusation is investigated, and children are protected in a safe environment. Appropriate action that includes a comprehensive investigation can ensure the predatory priest’s behavior stops immediately to avoid damage to others.
Handling the case in the legal system ensures the sexual abuser is held accountable even if the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal, religious order, the Archdiocese oversight board, or US Conference of Catholic Bishops look the other way to protect one of their own. Only the court system can determine if the alleged sex offender of innocent children and young adults is guilty of sexual abuse.
Sexual Abuse Creates Ongoing Trauma
Often, a sexual predator will choose vulnerable children and young adults to maximize their dominance over their prey. These clergy abusers use the power of their position in Roman Catholic dioceses as an effective weapon to strike out against those who are unable to protect themselves.
These predators know that a defenseless victim will likely never report what happened. Unfortunately, sexual molestation creates ongoing trauma in the victim’s life that could take years to resolve. As the sexually abused survivor heals, they often develop intense confusion, mixed emotions, high anxiety, deep depression, and thoughts of suicide.
Most victims live a challenging life in maintaining personal relationships during the maturing years. Sadly, the Catholic Church has sought to protect the predator while dismissing the trauma suffered by sexual abuse survivors who need financial assistance to pay for counseling.
Hiring a Newark Archdiocese Sexual Abuse Attorney
If you are a sexually abused victim that was harmed by a clergy member or other religious leader, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help. Our legal team will use our years of experience to ensure you are adequately compensated for your damages through a civil lawsuit. Contact our legal team today to schedule a free case evaluation without obligation to move forward. As a positive first step, let us discuss your case in a confidential setting.
Did the religious leader or predator priest sexually molest you years ago, long past the expiration of the state statute of limitations? If so, our legal team can sidestep the limiting restrictions on the length of time you have to file a case based on the New Jersey statute of limitations laws. Our compassionate lawyers will listen to your horrific story and provide legal advice on how to proceed.
Our attorneys accept all cases where the predator religious leader is in “active ministry,” was arrested by law enforcement, was placed on administrative leave, is no longer associated with the Roman Catholic Church, has retired from the priesthood, or has since died.