Metuchen, N.J., Sep 5, 2018 / 02:31 pm (CNA).- Bishop Emeritus Paul Bootkoski of Metuchen said last week that claims of abuse against then-Cardinal McCarrick made to his diocese were reported to the then-nuncio in a timely manner. Accounts from some alleged victims suggest the diocese had been aware of McCarrick’s misconduct long before it was reported.
An Aug. 28 statement from the office of Bishop Bootkoski said Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò “was mistaken in his recollection of facts regarding abuses committed by Archbishop McCarrick.”
Archbishop Viganò, the former apostolic nuncio to the US, had written that Bishop Bootkoski, as well as Archbishop Emeritus John Myers of Newark “covered up the abuses committed by McCarrick in their respective dioceses and compensated two of his victims. They cannot deny it and they must be interrogated in order to reveal every circumstance and all responsibility regarding this matter.”
According to the statement from Bishop Bootkoski’s office, “the Diocese of Metuchen received the first of three complaints against Archbishop McCarrick in 2004,” after McCarrick had been transferred to Washington and made a cardinal.
“The Diocese of Metuchen promptly reported each claim it received to law enforcement in multiple counties in the different states where the reported offenses took place,” the statement said.
Bishop Bootkoski said he informed the then-apostolic nuncio to the US, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo Higuera, of the claims received by the Metuchen diocese regarding McCarrick in December 2005, first by phone, and then in writing.
“Any implication that Bishop Bootkoski failed to report the accusations against Archbishop McCarrick to the appropriate church officials and civil authorities is incorrect,” the statement said.
A letter sent Dec. 6, 2005 from Bootkoski to the nuncio summarized that a priest of the Metuchen diocese, who was subsequently dismissed from the clerical state, “alleged McCarrick had inappropriate physical contact with him”; that a former Metuchen seminarian “alleged to have heard rumors of parties held at the New Jersey shore home of Cardinal McCarrick; however, he indicated he was not at any of the parties and put no credence in the rumors”; and that a priest of Metuchen who was subsequently removed from ministry dues to allegations of sexual abuse of minors in the 1990s “alleged McCarrick had inappropriate physical contact with him, including sexual touching, when he was a seminarian, as well as similar encounters with other priests of the diocese.”
According to a July 16 article in the New York Times, Robert Ciolek “filed for a settlement from the church” in 2004.
Ciolek had been a seminarian in the 1980s, and alleged abuse by McCarrick. He was ordained a priest, but left the priesthood in 1988.
In 2005, he received an $80,000 settlement from the Metuchen, Trenton, and Newark dioceses.
But the New York Times reported that Ciolek was contacted “around 1999” by Msgr. Michael Alliegro, who asked him “if he planned to sue the diocese, and then mentioned Archbishop McCarrick’s name.”
Msgr. Alliegro had served as McCarrick’s secretary in Metuchen, and he was vicar of pastoral life for the diocese from 1987 until about 1999.
“And I literally laughed, and I said, no,” Ciolek told the New York Times, adding that Alliegro breathed a sigh of relief.
The New York Times reported another priest was in 2004 “forced to resign under the church’s new zero-tolerance protocols against child abuse.”
That priest told the New York Times that he had written to Bishop Edward Hughes of Metuchen in 1994 “saying that Archbishop McCarrick had inappropriately touched him and other seminarians in the 1980s.”
“He told Bishop Hughes that he was coming forward because he believed the sexual and emotional abuse he endured from Archbishop McCarrick, as well as several other priests, had left him so traumatized that it triggered him to touch two 15-year-old boys inappropriately. The Metuchen diocese sent the priest to therapy, and then transferred him to another diocese.”
The priest was paid a $100,000 settlement by the Church in 2007.
The office of Bishop Bootkoski said that “The Diocese of Metuchen received the first of three complaints against Archbishop McCarrick in 2004.”
It is evident that three men did contact the Metuchen diocese between 2004 and 2005 with allegations against McCarrick.
The first was Ciolek, whose settlement was paid in 2005. The Diocese of Metuchen was aware of his allegation at least as far back as 1999.
The second, a former seminarian, had heard rumors about McCarrick but did not allege having been abused himself.
The third is the unnamed priest who received a settlement in 2007. He first told the Bishop of Metuchen in 1994 that he and other seminarians had been sexually and emotionally abused by McCarrick in the 1980s, and that this had triggered him to touch inappropriately two underaged boys.
Before becoming Bishop of Metuchen, Bootkoski served under McCarrick in the Archdiocese of Newark for 14 years: 11 as a priest, and three as auxiliary bishop.