Opinion: I exposed priest in sexting sting. Now church must reform.
Two months ago, news broke that a priest in the Diocese of Trenton had been exchanging sexually charged text messages with someone he thought was a 16-year-old boy.
I was that fictitious boy.
Matthew Riedlinger was an assistant pastor at St. Aloysius Church in Jackson. In 2011, I and another Catholic University of America student complained to Trenton Bishop David M. O’Connell that Riedlinger had sexually harassed us and other young men repeatedly for years. In the summer of 2012, we posed as a 16-year-old boy on Facebook and set up a sting.
Within two weeks of the first contact, Riedlinger talked about pornography, mutual masturbation and sexual encounters. And, he wanted to meet “me.”
In August 2012, we gave transcripts of the conversations to O’Connell, who removed Riedlinger from the parish, but the bishop did not tell parishioners of the allegations against Riedlinger for more than a year — until Sept. 21, after being told The Star-Ledger would be publishing a story on the scandal.
O’Connell’s refusal to...
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.