WOODBRIDGE – A priest who served at St. Cecelia Church in the Iselin section has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault of a child between the ages of 14 and 17 in the 1990s, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced Thursday.
Father Thomas P. Ganley, 63, of Phillipsburg, was arrested Wednesday and charged with one count of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and two counts of second-degree sexual assault.
Ganley was a priest at St. Cecelia when the criminal acts occurred from 1990 through 1994, authorities said. He’s currently assigned to Saint Philip & Saint James Church in Phillipsburg. According to the Diocese of Metuchen, Ganley also is a a chaplain at Warren General Hospital.
Ganley is currently being held at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center in North Brunswick pending a detention hearing scheduled for Friday.
“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,” according to a statement from the Diocese of Metuchen. “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. As is our protocol, we are contacting all the parishes and diocesan organizations where he ministered to alert them of the charges.”
“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,” Bishop James Checchio said. “I am truly sorry to learn of this abuse and the suffering of this victim.”
The arrest constitutes the first criminal case filed by the New Jersey Clergy Abuse Task Force, which was formed by Grewal in September, to investigate allegations of clergy abuse. The arrest was made by members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office assigned to the task force.
“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,” 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. We urge all survivors, witnesses of sexual abuse, and others with information to call our hotline.”
When Grewal formed the Clergy Abuse Task Force, he also established a Clergy Abuse Hotline – 855-363-6548 – which is staffed by trained professionals and operated on a 24/7 basis. More than 350 calls have been received through the hotline to date.
Anyone with information about this matter, or other situations of misconduct/abuse involving clergy or church personnel also are asked to contact the Victims Assistance Coordinator in the Diocese of Metuchen’s Office of Child and Youth Protection at 908-930-4558.
Anyone with information in this case is asked to call Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office detective Paul Kelley at 732-745-4499 or detective Julissa Alvarado at 732-745-3711.