A Newark archbishop sexually abused a 5-year-old girl in the 1970s after he won the trust of her hungry family by bringing them food.
The March lawsuit is believed to be the first abuse allegation against Peter Gerety, who died in 2016 at the age of 104, making him the world’s oldest Catholic bishop.
The plaintiff, now in her 40s, said she flattered Gerety as “such a smart and pretty young girl” before sexually abusing her at least three or four times in the rectory, the lawsuit said.
The plaintiff said she told her sister about the attacks as a teenager and was still using drugs to treat anxiety and depression related to sex crimes, the affidavit said.
“I have suffered from extreme difficulty navigating intimate relationships and I continue to experience tantrums and difficulties when involved in relationships and trying to be intimate in the context of those relationships,” she wrote.
Church leaders did not comment on the lawsuit, but a spokesman said the Archdiocese of Newark was determined to resolve the allegations and shut down the victims.
In 2019, New Jersey Catholic officials released the names of nearly 200 priests accused of child abuse, including Theodore McCarrick, another former Archbishop of Newark.
The latest lawsuit claims $ 50 million plus additional unspecified damage to the deceased bishop’s estate, the Church, and other undisclosed individuals and groups.
“This case shows how systematic and ubiquitous child sexual abuse was and is in the Catholic Church,” said John Baldante, the plaintiff’s attorney.
The Church has paid more than $ 3 billion to resolve abuse lawsuits.
With AP wires