Seton Hall University has hired Newark law firm Gibbons P.C. to independently investigate sex abuse allegations that “may have involved seminarians” at both the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology and the College Seminary at Saint Andrew’s Hall on the South Orange campus, according to Dr. Mary Meehan, Seton Hall’s interim president.
“Among the many disgraceful incidents that have shaken our collective consciousness, we at the University are particularly concerned with recent accusations against Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Newark, and other priests of the Archdiocese,” Meehan wrote in a letter to the university community.
McCarrick served as president of the board of trustees at Seton Hall and served as Archbishop of Newark during the mid-80s to early 2000s.
According to NJ.com, McCarrick resigned as a cardinal in July 2018 after he was accused of sexually abusing at least two boys decades ago. After his resignation, it came to light that he was accused of sexual misconduct three times in the past with adults, all of which resulted in financial settlements totaling $180,000. During his time in New Jersey, he was also accused of inviting young priests-in-training to his beach house in Sea Girt, where they were expected to share his bed. Pope Francis has ordered McCarrick to “live a life of penance and prayer” while he waits for a church trial on allegations he sexually abused an altar boy nearly 50 years ago.
Also according to NJ.com, the Vatican’s retired ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, recently penned an 11-page letter accusing Vatican officials of knowing about McCarrick’s actions as early as 2000. Vigano also accused Pope Francis of initially rehabilitating McCarrick despite being informed of his actions involving young seminarians.
Last month, a Pennsylvania grand jury revealed the names of 300 priests credibly accused of sex abuse over a 70-year-period. State Sen. Joseph Vitale of Middlesex, N.J. told NJ.com that he wants New Jersey to embark on a similar investigation in light of the allegations against McCarrick.
Christine Amalfe, an attorney at Gibbons P.C., will oversee the review. The larger investigation will be conducted by attorney Ted Wells of the New York law firm, Paul, Weiss, who previously led the National Football League’s investigation into the New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, known as “Deflategate.”
“Seton Hall is committed to doing all it can to protect our students, seminarians and other members of the University community,” Meehan wrote in the letter. “We strive to ensure that our University is — first and foremost — a place where everyone feels safe and respected.”
Dr. Karen Boroff, interim provost, said that to her knowledge, there is nothing to report in the way of new information regarding the investigation at this time.
“We can concentrate on what we can control,” she said. “We need to support everybody in this community (Seton Hall) as we go through this review.”
James Goodness, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Newark, said in an email that since the investigation is a university effort, he is not in a position to provide any comment on it.
Isabel Soisson can be reached at email@example.com.