NEWARK, N.J., May 11 (UPI) -- The Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., has agreed to pay $650,000 to five men who say they were molested by a priest who was allowed to change his name and move.
The priest, the Rev. Carmen Sita, is awaiting trial in Missouri on charges of sexually abusing children there, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported. Sita, who was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to sexual assault in Jersey City in 1982, legally changed his name to Gerald Howard and moved west.
Archbishop Peter Gerety, who was head of the Newark diocese at the time, apparently never notified authorities in Missouri Sita was a convicted molester.
"It frankly horrifies me that this priest was allowed to move on and run amok," said Greg Gianforcaro, an attorney for the New Jersey victims. "There is no excuse for it."
Gianforcaro announced the settlement Thursday. He represented men who say Sita molested them at St. Aloysius Church in Jersey City in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The Newark archdiocese has also paid $225,000 as its share of a $600,000 settlement with a Missouri victim, the Star-Ledger said.
Sita or Howard is being held in lieu of $1.5 million bail in Missouri. Gerety retired in 1986 and is currently the oldest living Catholic bishop in the United States at the age of 100.