Accused Bayonne priest quits
By Jeff Diamant Newhouse News Service The Hersey Journal Saturday, September 3, 2005
A Roman Catholic priest who has worked at four churches in Hudson County has voluntarily left his post at St. Henry's Church in Bayonne while the Newark Archdiocese investigates an allegation of loveual abuse made against him by a man who is now 36.
Joe Capozzi, of Cliffside Park, informed the Archdiocese last week that Monsignor Peter Cheplic molested him in the 1980s after Capozzi's family met the priest while Cheplic worked at St. Matthew Parish in Ridgefield.
Capozzi, who works as a finance officer for Columbia University in Manhattan, said the actual abuse occurred later when he was a teenager and Cheplic worked at St. Joseph of the Palisades in West New York.
St. Henry's parishioners learned about the situation Sunday when a priest read a statement issued by the Archdiocese.
"We know that most of you in St. Henry have great affection and respect for Monsignor and it is with great sadness that we must take these steps," it read. "However, it is important that the Archdiocese investigate this information fully and cooperate with authorities in such matters."
Cheplic, ordained in 1972, also has worked at St. Aloysius in Jersey City, St. Lawrence in Weehawken, and Holy Spirit-Our Lady Help of Christians in East Orange.
The Archdiocese investigated another allegation made against Cheplic in 2002, when Cheplic was at St. Aloysius, but determined it "did not warrant a removal" because it did not involve a minor, said James Goodness, spokesman for Archbishop John J. Myers.
Goodness said yesterday that the Archdiocese's internal investigation has just begun and that there is no estimate on how long it will continue.
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Officials at St. Aloysius, St. Joseph of the Palisades and St. Lawrence's Church in Weehawken did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.
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