A massive investigation by New Jersey authorities into the sexual abuse of young boys by priests has produced its first arrest.
Fr. Thomas P. Ganley, 63, of Phillipsburg remained held in Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center in North Brunswick pending a detention hearing Friday on various sex assault counts.
Ganley was a priest at St. Cecelia Church in the Iselin section of Woodbridge when he abused the youngster from 1990 through 1994, from when the boy was 14 until he was 17, authorities said.
The charges are the first brought by the New Jersey Clergy Abuse Task Force, which Grewal created last September to investigate allegations of clergy abuse.
“Our Clergy Abuse Task Force is diligently pursuing its mission to expose the truth about past wrongs and seek justice for survivors, because no person is above the law and no institution is immune from accountability,” state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
“This case illustrates that we are prepared to move swiftly to investigate allegations, and where there are viable criminal charges, to pursue those charges,” Grewal said.
“We urge all survivors, witnesses of sexual abuse, and others with information to call our hotline,” he added.
Statement of the Diocese of Metuchen on Rev. Thomas Ganley:
"We have been informed that Rev. Thomas Ganley, a parochial vicar at St. Philip and St. James Catholic Church in Phillipsburg and a chaplain at Warren General Hospital, was charged Thursday afternoon with sexual assault involving a minor. It’s our understanding the victim just came forward to prosecutors as an adult with an allegation of abuse that occurred while a minor in the early 1990’s, which Fr. Ganley has reportedly admitted to law enforcement. As per Church protocol, he would then be removed from the priesthood. The diocese has never received an accusation of sexual abuse nor misconduct in the past regarding Father Ganley. He is currently in custody.
"As is our protocol we are contacting all the parishes and diocesan organizations where he ministered to alert them of the charges."
"Bishop Checchio lamented: ''The sexual abuse of a minor is among the most terrible of crimes because it is committed against society’s most innocent and vulnerable. Incidences of this type truly sicken and sadden me. I am truly sorry to learn of this abuse and the suffering of this victim.'
"The Diocese of Metuchen is committed to continuing to provide pastoral care and counseling assistance to abuse victims and survivors. In keeping with our continued commitment to seek healing and justice, we ask anyone with information about this matter, or other situations of misconduct/abuse involving clergy or church personnel, to contact local law enforcement and our Victims Assistance Coordinator in our Office of Child and Youth Protection at 908-930-4558. Please keep all those affected by clergy sexual abuse in your prayers."
ALSO SEE : It was the summer before 8th grade when Ridgefield Park native Ed Hanratty said the worst sexual abuse he’d endured from a local priest happened – in his own backyard.
Authorities were continuing their investigation of Ganley, who most recently was assigned to St. Philip & St. James Church in Phillipsburg. Authorities asked that anyone with information related to the case contact Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Detective Paul Kelley at (732) 745-4499 or Detective Julissa Alvarado at (732) 745-3711 .
Grewal formed the New Jersey Clergy Abuse Task Force in response to the publication of a report by a grand jury in Pennsylvania outlining allegations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests against more than 1,000 victims uncovered in a multi-year investigation there.
Task force members investigate allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy within the Catholic dioceses of New Jersey, as well as any attempted coverups.
Detectives and prosecutors from all 21 New Jersey county prosecutors’ offices and the state Division of Criminal Justice participate – using documents and subpoenas to compel testimony before grand juries, among other measures.
Grewal also established a Clergy Abuse Hotline staffed by trained professionals around the clock.
More than 350 calls have been received through the hotline as of Wednesday, he said.
The Clergy Abuse Hotline: 855-363-6548 .
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