The pastor of Cliffside Park’s Church of the Epiphany has resigned amid allegations that he abused a minor before he was ordained.
The Rev. Bruce Harger, 66, “has not been convicted of any civil or canonical crime” and has denied any wrongdoing, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark said.
He decided “after thorough and careful consideration” to step down until the matter is resolved, however, “out of concern for the people of the parish and for the benefit of the church,” the spokeswoman, Maria Margiotta, said in a statement.
"The alleged abuse occurred before Fr. Harger was associated with the Archdiocese of Newark, and before he was ordained," Margiotta said.
Discussing details of allegations would be inappropriate, she said, while noting that the accuser “has been offered counseling and healing services by the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of the Faithful.”
The archdiocese also referred the matter to the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.
Harger, who was ordained in 2001, was a pastoral associate at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Hillsdale for six years, then later moved to St. Nicholas Parish in Jersey City, where he served for three years.
He came to the Church of Epiphany as an administrator in 2018 and was made pastor last October.
Harger was a singer before he entered the priesthood – performing with the Hidden Valley Opera Ensemble in California, with the Washington Opera Chorus in Washington, DC and the Wolftrap Summer Opera and with an opera company in Switzerland.
He studied at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, the Princeton Theological Seminary and Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University.
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