Former NJ/MO Catholic priest and notorious serial abuser has died while incarcerated

(For Immediate Release January 4, 2021) 

Gerald J. Howard, also known as Carmen Sita, passed away in prison last fall. According to an email from the Missouri Department of Corrections Constituent Services which was passed along to SNAP, the former Catholic priest died on September 19, 2021. We hope that his victims can now breathe easier knowing that he will never again be in a position to hurt children.

Carmen Sita worked as a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark from his ordination in 1976 until 1982. In 1982, he was charged with sexually assaulting a young boy and distributing drugs. The cleric pleaded guilty in 1983 and received a sentence of 5 years probation. The Church apparently then briefly sent him for psychiatric treatment at the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.

Astonishingly, but not surprisingly, Sita, who had legally changed his name to Gerald Howard, was then allowed to go back to work as a clergyman in the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1983. In 2009, a lawsuit accusing Sita/Howard of sexually assaulting a boy in Missouri that very same year was settled for $600K.  

Sita/Howard was arrested again in April 2010 and charged with sexually assaulting three Missouri boys in the 1980s. The charges included kidnapping and forcible sodomy. The abuse was said to have occurred between 1983-1988. 

The Catholic priest pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of attempted forcible sodomy in 2014.  Imprisoned on those charges in Missouri, Sita/Howard was set to be released from the Missouri Department of Corrections in May of 2022.

Again, we hope that this news of Sita/Howard's death brings some relief and consolation to all of those who were hurt by his crimes. We are extremely grateful to the victims who bravely reported this serial perpetrator and helped put him behind bars. We are also relieved that this man will no longer be a threat to young lives.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), Melanie Sakoda, Survivor Support Coordinator (925-708-6175, [email protected]) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386, [email protected])

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

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