A Catholic priest has confessed to sexually assaulting a teen girl over several years at his former church in Woodbridge.

Thomas P. Ganley, 63, of Phillipsburg, pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault before Superior Court Judge Diane Pincus in Middlesex County. Ganley admitted that he engaged in sexual acts with the victim when she was 16 or 17 years old, during a time when he had supervisory authority as head of the parish's Youth Ministry, according to State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Ganley was a priest at St. Cecelia Church in the Iselin section of the township when the criminal acts occurred from 1990 through 1994, prosecutors said.

Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Ganley be sentenced to four years in prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 2.

Ganley was investigated and prosecuted by members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office assigned to the New Jersey Clergy Abuse Task Force.

He also will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law, and will be prohibited from having any contact with the victim or unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18.

Father Thomas Ganley in undated photos. On left via the St. Philip & St. James Church website. On right from his personal page at angelfire.com/nj3/padretom

“We hope that this first guilty plea secured by the Task Force will encourage other victims who have suffered in silence for years or decades to come forward,” said former Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino, who leads the Clergy Abuse Task Force.

The Clergy Abuse Hotline, at 855-363-6548, is staffed by trained professionals and operated on a 24/7 basis. More than 480 calls have been received through the hotline since it was created.

 

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