Alleged victims of sex abuse say accused priest’s death brings ‘final justice,’ closure
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on February 09, 2015 at 3:31 PM
The alleged abuse spanned four decades, one teenage boy after another.
The Rev. Terence McAlinden, the alleged victims said, used alcohol, threats and the name of God to coerce them into sexual situations. Years later, in a videotaped deposition, the former youth leader admitted sleeping nude with boys and bathing with them naked in a hot tub.
Today, those boys — now grown men in their 40s, 50s and 60s — said a painful chapter of their lives had closed after learning that McAlinden, 74, was dead.
Suspended from ministry by the Diocese of Trenton since 2007, McAlinden died Friday at a hospital, his sister said. The priest’s accusers said they were told he had suffered a heart attack.
The sister, Pat Brzusek of Bellevue, Wash., said she did not know the cause of death but learned recently her brother, a resident of Little Egg Harbor, was undergoing treatment for lung cancer.
“If there is truly a judgment day, my brother has faced his,” said Brzusek, who has been estranged from McAlinden for many years. “It’s a very sad situation.”
Chris Naples, who received a $610,000 settlement from the diocese last year over claims that McAlinden molested him for a decade in the 1980s and 1990s, said a relative told him the priest’s death was announced during Mass Sunday at St. Theresa Roman Catholic Church in Little Egg Harbor, where McAlinden once served as pastor.
“I can now say I have my final justice,” said Naples, 42, of New Gretna. “This, to me, is closure.”
A spokeswoman for the Trenton Diocese said that, before his death, McAlinden requested he not receive a funeral Mass and that no obituary be published. Details about his death were not released.
McAlinden is accused of sexually abusing a boy as early as 1968, when he was a new priest at Our Lady Of Victories Church in Sayreville. It was there that Bob Markulic, now 60 and living in Warren County, said the priest preyed on him for a year. Markulic reached an undisclosed settlement with the Trenton Diocese in 2012.
“We’ve closed the book on him now, and he won’t be able to hurt anybody anymore,” Markulic said. “That’s important, especially to the survivors.”
Markulic and Naples are among four people who have publicly accused McAlinden of abuse. Naples said several other men have contacted the Trenton Diocese in recent years with similar claims but did not want to go public. The diocese has declined to comment on additional alleged victims.
In a deposition, McAlinden acknowledged a sexual relationship with Naples but claimed it did not begin until Naples was 18. He declined to comment on other allegations when a Star-Ledger reporter knocked on his door last year. He was never criminally charged.
Patrick Newcombe, 50, who now lives in North Carolina, told the diocese in 1989 that McAlinden had sexually abused him. Three years later, he reached a settlement with the church. As a condition of the agreement, he was required to remain silent about it, he said
McAlinden, meanwhile, was permitted to remain in ministry.
It wasn’t until Naples came forward in 2007 that the diocese suspended him. At the time, a review board investigated Naples’ claims and found them to be credible.
Last year, after settling with Naples, Trenton Bishop David M. O’Connell issued a rare public apology, calling McAlinden’s actions “inexcusable.” O’Connell was not bishop when the alleged abuse occurred.
The fourth man, John Tominus, 48, now of Seminole, Fla., reached a $180,000 settlement with the diocese in October of last year.
Tominus contends McAlinden molested him for three years in the 1980s, when the priest was living in Keyport at Jerramiah House, the headquarters for the Trenton Diocese’s Catholic Youth Organization. McAlinden served as the group’s director. Tominus attended a nearby church, St. Joseph’s Parish.
Tominus could not be reached for comment.
The other alleged victims said they remained bitter that McAlinden had not been removed from the priesthood, or laicized, and they said they hoped he would not be buried in his religious vestments.
“If that happened,” Newcombe said, “it would be a disgrace.”