NJ- Predator is defrocked; Bishop is secretive
For immediate release: Monday, September 15, 2014
A New Jersey serial predator priest was apparently defrocked months ago, but his bishop essentially kept silent about it, telling only one group of parishioners but refusing to tell the public or other parishioners.
In July, Metuchen Bishop Paul Bootkoski (732-562-1990) wrote to his flock at St. James parish telling them that Msgr. Michael J. Cashman has been defrocked by the Vatican. Cashman worked at churches in Old Bridge, West Trenton, Spotswood, North Brunswick and (most recently) Woodbridge (and likely at other locations too).
Bootkoski's letter was obtained and posted on line today by BishopAccountability.org, an on line archive about the Catholic church's on-going clergy child sex abuse and cover up crisis.
Bootkoski, like hundreds of other Catholic officials, has repeatedly pledged he'd be “open and transparent” in dealing with pedophile priests. The twelve year old US national bishops policy (called “the Dallas Charter”) mandates that he be open. But he's told the smallest group possible about Cashman's wrongdoing, instead of shouting from the rooftops, “Cashman's a credibly accused and defrocked predator. Keep your kids away from him.”
Bootkoski's acting more like a cold-hearted CEO than a compassionate shepherd. He's trying to do the absolute bare minimum, rather than do what best protects children.
Bootkoski's refusal to widely announce Cashman's defrocking is endangering kids. Only a small percentage of Metuchen Catholics know that the child sex abuse allegations against Cashman have been deemed credible and that the Vatican has permanently ousted him. An even smaller percentage of Metuchen area parents, police or prosecutors know this.
Bootkoski should do what 30 US bishops have done: post the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics on his diocesan website. He should explain and apologize for his reckless secrecy regarding Cashman. He should make sure that verbal and and written announcements about Cashman are made in every church this weekend. He should disclose Cashman's last known whereabouts. And he should personally visit each parish where Cashman worked, emphatically begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to protect kids and call police with any knowledge or suspicions they may have about Cashman's crimes.
Anything less is damage control, public relations, and a violation of the spirit of the church's abuse policy.
According to BishopAccountability.org, Cashman is a native of Ireland. He was put on leave in 2002 after an accusation that he abused a former parishioner, her son and daughter in 1978 at parish in Old Bridge. Other accusations were also made. A case against him was included in a Jan. 2003 settlement involving abuse by five priests. He denied all allegations. In March 2009, a church trial found him guilty of one count of abuse between 1980-1983 and ousted removed him from public ministry.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 18,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)