NJ pastor silent after ‘exorcism’ victims say he orally raped them
LINDEN — A longtime pastor is not contesting the accusations that he used supposed exorcism rituals to sexually abuse parishioners in two separate lawsuits.
An attorney for the victims says this means that the accusations are considered to be credible and that church officials will have a harder time tying to defend themselves.
Four members of the Linden Presbyterian Church say in one lawsuit that they were molested and sexually assaulted by a minister who claimed to have used "Native American exorcism" that was nothing more than nonconsensual oral sex and masturbation.
Jared Staunton, Alan Meeker Jr., William Weist and a woman identified as "H.C." accuse the Rev. William “Bill” Weaver of the sexual assaults during separate therapy sessions.
The complaint outlines why each of the plaintiffs came to Weaver, a minister at the church for nearly 40 years. The lawsuit also names the local church, the Presbytery of Elizabeth and the Presbyterian Church USA as defendants.
The plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount in compensatory damages for psychological and emotional distress, loss of standing in their respective communities, injunctive relief to prevent future sexual assault, punitive damages and legal costs.
MyCentralJersey.com reported that a Hunterdon County man identified as "D.L." also filed a lawsuit against Weaver claiming he touched him in a "sexual manner" while helping him cope with the loss of a dog in 2000 and again in 2005 during a counseling session with his wife.
Robert Fuggi, the attorney in both lawsuits, told New Jersey 101.5 that Weaver has acknowledged being served the lawsuits but has not responded to them and no lawyer has represented him in court.
"He's just choosing not to respond to the allegations, which means there is a default judgement against him now and he will not be able to dispute the claim so the allegations in the complaint are going to be deemed credible," Fuggi said.
Fuggi said is "shocking" for someone in his position with his level of education to simply "throw in the towel."
"I can't get into his mind as to why he's not responding to it other than he probably feels it's overwhelming and the allegations are true and he's not going to be able to respond to that," Fuggi said.
Fuggi said this creates problems for the Linden Presbyterian Church, the Presbytery of Elizabeth and the Presbyterian Church USA which are named as defendants because the alleged activity happened during church hours and his duties as a pastor.
"They will be responsible for the harm even if he doesn't respond to the case. He's the only one who can say 'no that didn't happen. That's untrue,' " Fuggi said.
Weaver resigned from the church before an investigation was completed.
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