The Catholic diocese of Trenton in New Jersey said it was not responsible for the molestation of a teenage boy by a priest as the accused was off duty when the abuse took place. 42-year-old Chris Naples has accused 73-year-old Reverend Terence McAlinden of having assaulted him more than 100 times over a decade, starting when the victim was only 13 years old.
Unfortunately, Naples lost a lawsuit against the diocese in Delaware, where most of the alleged abuse took place. During that case, attorneys said that the diocese could not be held responsible for McAlinden’s actions as abusing a child is not part of a priest’s duties.
When one of the judges asked, “How do we determine when a priest is on duty?” the diocese’s lawyer said, “Well, you can determine a priest is not on duty when he is molesting a child, for example. A priest abusing a child is absolutely contrary to the pursuit of his master's business, to the work of a diocese.”
Naturally, Naples was shocked by the church’s argument, saying, “Any hope I had that the church was concerned about me as a victim or about the conduct of its priests was totally gone. They were washing their hands of it. I was shattered. I just couldn’t believe that was one of their arguments.”
Naples first spoke of this decade-long abuse in 2007 after he suffered a nervous breakdown and tried to commit suicide. According to Naples, McAlinden molested him as the head of the youth group at St Theresa’s Parish in Little Egg Harbour. Reportedly, the molestations took place at different locations including the youth group’s headquarters, McAlinden’s parents’ house, the church rectory as well as during trips to Connecticut, Delaware, Atlantic City, New York and the Virgin Islands. What Naples says is the worst is that the church knew about the abuses but chose to do nothing about them.
After Naples’ wife confronted him in 2007, he complained to the diocese of Trenton that carried out an investigation and promptly suspended McAlinden from the ministry. However, he retained his priesthood and continues to receive his pension from the post till date. Apart from Naples, several other men have come out accusing
McAlinden of abusing them and the church of bribing them to stay quiet. However, the priest continues to deny the claims.
Naples won an individual judgment against McAlinden in Delaware for $3 million but he has not received any money yet and believes that he never will, since the priest has no assets. Naples has now moved on to suing the diocese, which he says did nothing to protect the children from a “monster” like McAlinden.
“They knew about McAlinden. They could have done something about it. And they did what every other diocese did. They kept it hush-hush and paid behind-the-scenes settlements,” Naples said.