Two now-deceased priests and two whose whereabouts are unknown are the subjects of new child sex abuse lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Newark.

The lawsuits, filed Thursday morning by Jeff Anderson & Associates, relate to alleged abuse from decades ago, and fall under the New Jersey Victims' Rights Bill that offers past survivors a window for filing civil claims.

The accused priests include:

  • Monsignor Harold V. Colgan — St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church (66-year-old unnamed plaintiff alleges unpermitted sexual contact from approximately 1957 to 1958)
  • Father Edmund P.  Murphy — St. Aloysius (65-year-old unnamed plaintiff alleges unpermitted sexual contact when plaintiff was 14 years old)
  • Father Francis A. Hennessey — St. Paul of the Cross (63-year-old unnamed plaintiff alleges unpermitted sexual activity over the course of years when the plaintiff was approximately 5 to 12 years old)
  • Father Dante M. DiGirolamo — St. John's Church (64-year-old unnamed plaintiff alleges unpermitted sexual contact from 1968 to 1970)

All suits claim that the culture of the Catholic Church over the plaintiff created pressure on the individuals not to report the abuse suffered.

According to attorney Jeff Anderson, Colgan and DiGirolamo are deceased. Hennessey's and Murphy's whereabouts are not known, Anderson said.

"Where they are is also important because the reality is, kids are at risk until this is disclosed," Anderson said during a virtual press conference held on Thursday.

His firm has filed dozens of suits under the New Jersey Victims' Rights Bill, which expires at the end of November.

In addition to announcing charges, Anderson called on the Archdiocese of Newark to make public the names of all priests who've been subject to private settlements, as well as the names of priests who have been identified in lawsuits under the Victims' Rights Bill.

"Cardinal Tobin — you have that list, you have those names, release them now," Anderson said.

The Archdiocese emailed the following comment to New Jersey 101.5:

“It would be inappropriate to comment on matters in litigation, but it’s important to note that the Archdiocese of Newark remains fully committed to transparency and to our long-standing programs to protect the faithful and will continue to work with victims, their legal representatives and law enforcement authorities in an ongoing effort to resolve allegations and bring closure to victims.”

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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