UNION COUNTY, NJ — On July 13, attorneys from the law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates and Gianforcaro Law, on behalf of numerous plaintiffs, filed nine 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, identify seven alleged child abusers formerly assigned within the archdiocese.
“These complaints seek to expose clerical sexual predators who have lived and worked among us in secrecy,” attorney Greg Gianforcaro said in a press release. “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 July 13, the two law firms have filed a total of 18 lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Newark.
“The recent actions taken by New Jersey lawmakers to expand 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,” Gianforcaro said.
Among the complaints filed July 13:
• Brother Peter Russell is accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1980 to 1983 at St. Joseph High School in Montvale. Of the lawsuits filed today, Russell is being publicly identified for the first time.
• Father Contardo Omarini is accused of sexually abusing three brothers from approximately 1958 to 1963 at St. Bernard in Plainfield. Among the plaintiffs allegedly abused by 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 is accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1978 to 1981 at St. John the Apostle in Linden. Rice died in 2014.
• Father Kenneth Martin is accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1981 to 1984 at St. Andrew’s in Bayonne. Martin also allegedly abused Mark Crawford, New Jersey state director of 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.
• Father John Capparelli is accused of sexually abusing two minors, one in approximately 1989 at St. Theresa in Kenilworth and the other from approximately 1988 to 1994 at Holy Trinity in Westfield. 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 is accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1988 to 1989 at St. Francis of Assisi in Ridgefield Park. 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.
• Brother John Dagwell is accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1980 to 1983 at St. Joseph High School in Montvale. In August of 1988, Dagwell was convicted in the Bergen County Superior Court of endangering the welfare of a child.
“Many of these courageous survivors have chosen to preserve their anonymity, which is their right under New Jersey law,” attorney Jeff Anderson said. “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.”