Priest on leave after 3 claim sex abuse that happened decades ago

New 27, 2018

By Amanda Hoover

Three people have accused a priest of sexually abusing them as minors in cases that date back decades, to before the man was a priest, the Metuchen Diocese has announced. 

In a letter released online Sunday to parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Virgin in Middlesex, Metuchen Bishop James Checchio announced the suspension of Father Patrick Kuffner while an investigation into the alleged abuse ensues. 

"I am deeply shocked and saddened at this development, and I have a heavy heart for the individuals who came forward after many years of having carried such a tremendous burden," he wrote.

The allegations stem from Kuffner's first career as a teacher in Staten Island and are three decades old, the letter said. 

Three law enforcement agencies have launched investigations into Kuffner, but two have since determined that the statute of limitation has passed, Checchio said.

Checchio did not detail the allegations, except to say he did not believe any such incident had occurred during Kuffner's tenure in Middlesex. 

Kuffner did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon. 

Kuffner was ordained in 2002 and began his second career in the ministry as parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew Parish in East Brunswick, according to a report from MyCentralJersey. He had enrolled in the Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass., which specializes in "second-career" ministry after he left education behind in the late 1990s. 

Before that, he taught and coached basketball at Sacred Heart in West Brighton, was an assistant principal at Moore Catholic High School eventually principal at St. Peter's Elementary School in New Brighton from 1993 to 1998, according to the Staten Island Advance. He was also an interim principal at St. Peter's Girls High School in the late 1990s. 

The Middlesex Police Department is not actively investigating any allegations against Kuffner, Captain Frank DeNick with the Middlesex Police Department said Tuesday. 

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