A Roman Catholic priest from Phillipsburg was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault of a child who was between 14-17 years old, according to a joint statement from the attorney general and Middlesex County prosecutor on Thursday.
Fr. Thomas P. Ganley was arrested Jan. 16 and officially charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault and two counts of second-degree sexual assault. Members of Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office assigned to the task force made the arrest.
Ganley’s arrest is the first criminal case filed by the New Jersey Clergy Abuse Task Force formed by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in September 2018 to investigate clergy abuse allegations.
When the alleged sexual encounters occurred between 1990 and 1994 Ganley was a priest at St. Cecelia Church in the Iselin section of Woodbridge, according to the statement. At the time of his arrest he was assigned to St. Philip and St. James Church in Phillipsburg.
“This case illustrates that we are prepared to move swiftly to investigate allegations, and where there are viable criminal charges, to pursue those charges,” said Grewal. “We urge all survivors, witnesses of sexual abuse, and others with information to call our hotline.”
Authorities said the reported victim contacted the Clergy Abuse Task Force Hotline on Jan. 14 to report the alleged assaults.
“It is important for survivors to know that, even if the abuse they suffered occurred many years ago, criminal prosecutions may still be possible and we will do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice.
Ganley was being held in the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center pending a detention hearing on Friday.
“This first arrest by the Task Force is indicative of the painstaking effort we are undertaking to give a voice to the survivors of clergy abuse, many of whom have suffered in silence for decades,” said former acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino, who leads the Clergy Abuse Task Force. “Every caller who contacts our hotline can be assured that their case will be taken seriously, and that we will make every effort to hold their abuser accountable.”
Anyone with information related to this case is asked to call county prosecutor Detective Paul Kelley at 732-745-4499 or Detective Julissa Alvarado at 732-745-3711.
To contact the Clergy Abuse Hotline, call 855-363-6548.