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News

Former Central Jersey Altar Boy Says Defrocked Catholic Cardinal Molested Him

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, formerly the Archbishop of Newark.
Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, formerly the Archbishop of Newark. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

A former altar boy from Monmouth County has gone public with accusations of sex abuse as a child at the hands of defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Geoffrey Downs, now 53, said in a lawsuit that McCarrick invited him to stay at a Catholic diocese-owned Jersey Shore beach house when he was a teenager.

In this interview with NJ.com, Downs said he never told his parents and continued serving as an altar boy until high school, when he was preparing for Mass with McCarrick. He claims that the cleric fondled him. “I was kind of frozen,” Downs said in the newspaper interview. 

Last year, Pope Francis defrocked McCarrick after a church investigation found he sexually abused minors and adult seminarians. 

Downs never said another word to McCarrick, who is now 90 and facing several lawsuits from victims that include Downs. And Downs never went back to church. “I didn’t want anything to do with organized religion,” he told NJ.com

Downs -- identified in a lawsuit filed last month as "Doe 14" -- also claims he was molested by McCarrick and three other priests during overnight stays at the then-Bishop's home in Sea Girt. Lawyers for several victims allege that McCarrick led a "sex ring" from the home.

The Diocese of Metuchen also was named in the lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Monmouth County.

Washington attorney Barry Coburn, who represents McCarrick had no comment.

Downs kept what happened mostly to himself, according to NJ.com: “I definitely did not tell my parents. Back then, that generation — the church was the most reverent thing. You couldn’t say anything about the church. . . .I think I told another altar boy.”

“I want the story told,” Downs is quoted as saying. “I want the church and those monsters to atone for what they’ve done.”

To read more about Downs' interview with NJ Advance media, click here.

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