Lawsuits Name Seven Clerics Accused of Child Sexual Abuse within the Archdiocese, One for the First Time
(Newark, NJ) – Today, attorneys from the law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates and Gianforcaro Law, on behalf of numerous courageous survivors, filed nine (9) lawsuits for childhood sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Newark. The cases, brought under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act / New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill (S.477), identifies seven (7) child abusers formerly assigned within the Archdiocese. Brother Peter Russell, C.F.X (St. Joseph High School, Montvale, NJ) is being named publicly for the first time.
“These complaints seek to expose clerical sexual predators who have lived and worked among us in secrecy,” said attorney Greg Gianforcaro. “These survivors’ brave actions will bring accountability and consequences upon the predators, as well as the institutions and their officials who have concealed and harbored known predators for decades without any regard for the safety of children in their care.”
As of today, the two law firms have filed a total of 18 lawsuits against the Archdiocese. “The recent actions taken by New Jersey lawmakers to expand the statute of limitations laws for survivors of sexual abuse created a window of justice which now grants these survivors access to the civil justice system, instills accountability and will prevent children from becoming victims of sexual abuse in the future,” said Gianforcaro.
Among the complaints filed today, one of the seven clerics has been publicly identified for the first time, while the other six are known abusers. They include:
- Brother Peter Russell, C.F.X., accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1980 to 1983 at St. Joseph High School in Montvale, NJ. Of the lawsuits filed today, Br. Russell is being publicly identified for the first time.
- Father Contardo Omarini, S.P., accused of sexually abusing three brothers from approximately 1958 to 1963 at St. Bernard in Plainfield, NJ. Among the plaintiffs abused by Fr. Omarini, is Fred Marigliano, the eldest of the three brothers. In 2015, Marigliano organized a walk through the State of New Jersey to bring awareness of and demand for statute of limitations reform for sexual abuse matters, and was instrumental in the passage of the New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill.
- Father Joseph Rice, accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1978 to 1981 at St. John the Apostle in Linden, NJ. A notorious perpetrator of many young children, Fr. Rice died in 2014.
- Father Kenneth Martin, accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1981 to 1984 at St. Andrew’s in Bayonne, NJ. Martin is a known abuser with other survivors, one of whom is Mark Crawford, New Jersey State Director of SNAP (Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests). Crawford, who had previously entered into a settlement with the Archdiocese, has worked diligently to advocate for other survivors and break the silence around clergy abuse, and to hold Church leaders accountable for heinous acts against children for which they are responsible. Martin currently resides in Brick, NJ.
- Father John Capparelli, accused of sexually abusing two minors, one in approximately 1989 at St. Theresa in Kenilworth, NJ, and the other from approximately 1988 to 1994 at Holy Trinity in Westfield, NJ. Fr. Capparelli was removed from ministry in approximately 1992 and went on to teach in Newark public schools until retiring in 2013. Capparelli was murdered in 2019.
- Father Gerard Sudol, accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1988 to 1989 at St. Francis of Assisi in Ridgefield Park, NJ. There have been prior allegations of abuse against Sudol of which the Archdiocese has known since 1996. Despite this, Sudol had served at a New Jersey Archdiocese parish as late as 2018. There are currently several other abuse complaints pending against him. Fr. Sudol’s current whereabouts are unknown.
- Brother John Dagwell, C.F.X., accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1980 to 1983 at St. Joseph High School in Montvale, NJ. In August of 1988, Br. Dagwell was convicted in the Bergen County Superior Court of “Endangering the Welfare of a Child.” Br. Dagwell is currently residing in Florida.
“Many of these courageous survivors haven chosen to preserve their anonymity, which is their right under New Jersey Law,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “And it is their right under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act to take this opportunity to share their truth and tear back the curtain of secrecy that concealed the identities and crimes of their perpetrators for so many years.”