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New Jersey Lawsuit Filed over Clergy Sex Abuse  

March 4, 2020 – A new New Jersey lawsuit has just been filed against the Catholic church and several other parties over clergy sex abuse. A New Jersey man has filed a child sex abuse lawsuit against SS Joseph and Michael Church; the Cardinal Archbishop of Newark, Joseph Tobin; Passionist Missionaries; and the Reverend James Randall Gillette.

Related: NJ eases limit on Sex Abuse Lawsuits

The plaintiff lived in Union City, New Jersey at the time of the alleged abuse, while the defendant Reverend James Randall Gillette is a current resident of St. Gabriel’s Rectory in Brighton, Mass.

The lawsuit complaint states that the plaintiff was 11 years old [circa 1979] when he attended St. Michael’s Grammar School. There he became a student, parishioner, choir boy, and altar boy of Rev. Gillette’s.  As part of his altar service, the boy was introduced to, and required to work closely with, Rev. Gillette.

Rev. Gillette could walk to the family residence whenever he wished to visit, and according to the complaint, he often visited. The abuse began when the priest started stopping by the house to say prayers during the children’s bedtime.

“Initially Rev. Gillette would say prayers to him,” reads the complaint, “[B]ut after the third time, while discussing God, Rev. Gillette began fondling and masturbating Plaintiff.”

Family was Grateful for Man of God Visits

The plaintiff’s family believed that Rev. Gillette, who was in his late 20s at the time and described in the petition as “an athletic figure,” was a good influence on the boy. As a devout Catholic family, they were grateful that a “man of God” was paying so much attention to their son.

Whenever the plaintiff began feeling uncomfortable, reads the complaint, the priest “would assure him that the reason for their discussions about sex and God, as well as this forced sexual abuse, occurred because Plaintiff’s father wanted Rev. Gillette to teach him about the birds and the bees. Given Plaintiff’s strained relationship with his father, whom he describes as ‘rough with him,’ Plaintiff did not pry into the veracity of these statements.”

Plaintiff was Peripatetic Priests “Pet”

The plaintiff alleges that he became Rev. Gillette’s “pet,” and that other children noticed the extra attention he received. The complaint alleges that the sex abuse occurred on “more than 50 occasions over approximately three years and happened at the plaintiff’s home, at the Monastery property while Plaintiff was in the care, custody, and control of Defendants, and at various off-campus outings which Rev. Gillette took Plaintiff.”

The plaintiff’s father eventually suspected the worst, according to the complaint, when the plaintiff’s younger brothers said to him that “every time Rev. Gillette comes into the bed it bounces up and down.” The plaintiff’s father reported Fr. Gillette to the church, to Fr. Joseph Banks.

Missing Employment History Red Flags Priest(s)

Gillette denied any wrongdoing, but after six months, he was transferred from the church to St. Gabriel’s in Boston, Massachusetts. He was later sent to St. Patrick’s in Mexico City, Mexico; then on a “Foreign Mission” in Honduras; then he returned to Pittsburgh, where he was assigned to St. Paul of the Cross Monastery. The petition further says that his assignment history is unknown from 1994-1998; then he returned to a skilled nursing facility St. Vincent’s Residence in Pelham Manor, New York. From 2002-2004 he was assigned to the New York Passionists Communications, Inc. in New York. From 2002 to 2004 he was not indexed in the Official Catholic Directory.

The petition states: “Upon information and belief, some or all of these transfers and missing and/or unknown assignments were part of the Church’s established pattern [detailed elsewhere in the complaint] of moving pedophile priests to protect them and the church.”

New Jersey Lawsuit Filed over Clergy Sex Abuse

On January 6, 2020, reports show that Rev. Gillette pleaded guilty to two counts of “unnatural acts” with a minor for accusations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s. The time frame for that guilty plea aligns with the time frame Gillette was assigned to St. Michael’s Parish in Union City, N.J. and St. Gabriel’s Parish in Boston, during the time in which the plaintiff alleges that he was abused.

The complaint as drafted also leaves room to add more defendants as more become known, given how much time is missing from Gillette’s peripatetic and arcane work history.

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