NEW BRUNSWICK – A New Jersey priest has been sentenced to prison for the sexual assault of a teenage girl in the early 1990s, announced Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.
Roman Catholic priest, 64-year old Father Thomas P. Ganley of Phillipsburg, was sentenced to four years in state prison on August 26. Ganley pleaded guilty on April 8 to second-degree sexual assault, admitting that he engaged in sexual acts with the victim when she was 16 or 17 years old, at a time when he had supervisory authority over her.
Ganley was a priest at Saint Cecelia Church in the Iselin section of Woodbridge at the time of the incidents. At Saint Cecilia, he had supervisory authority over the victim as head of the Youth Ministry for the parish.
“This prison sentence demonstrates that we take these allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members very seriously and will act swiftly to secure justice for survivors,” said Attorney General Grewal. “This case also shows that, even if the abuse occurred many years ago, charges may still be viable and we will pursue them vigorously. Where charges are in fact time-barred, we will work equally hard to determine if the Church was aware of the abuse but failed to take action or prevent it from recurring, which will be the subject of a state grand jury presentment and report. We’ll do everything in our power to expose these past wrongs and hold wrongdoers accountable.”
Ganley is the first defendant to be charged and convicted by the Clergy Abuse Task Force formed by Attorney General Grewal in September 2018. Ganley was investigated and prosecuted by members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office assigned to the New Jersey Clergy Abuse Task Force.
Ganley was arrested on January 16, 2019, just two days after the victim phoned the Clergy Abuse Task Force Hotline to report the sexual abuse. At the time, Ganley was assigned to Saint Philip & Saint James Church in Phillipsburg.
Not only is he required to serve four years, but he must also register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. He will be prohibited from having contact with the victim and from having unsupervised contact with children under 18
“We urge all survivors, witnesses of sexual abuse, and others with information to call our Clergy Abuse Hotline: 855-363-6548,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend the members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office who secured this guilty plea and prison sentence. We want survivors to know that we have experienced prosecutors and detectives in every county who will diligently pursue these cases as members of our Task Force.”
“This is the first conviction for our Task Force, but it should not be the last, as long as other survivors and witnesses see that justice can be served and are encouraged to come forward,” said former Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino, who leads the Clergy Abuse Task Force. “Our message to survivors is that we will make every effort to hold their abusers accountable.”
In September 2018, Attorney General Grewal formed the Clergy Abuse Task Force and also established a Clergy Abuse Hotline, 855-363-6548, which is staffed by trained professionals and operated on a 24/7 basis. More than 540 calls have been received through the hotline to date.