New Jersey

Protesters Rally Outside New Jersey Courthouse After Newly Ordained Roman Catholic Priest Charged With Groping Girl

What to Know

  • A newly-ordained priest in New Jersey is accused of groping a teen girl under her skirt, authorities say
  • The Rev. Marcin Nurek, 37, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual contact, officials say
  • A protest will go on outside the Morristown courthouse Wednesday morning as Nurek faces a judge

Members of a non-profit charity that assists victims of sexual abuse and their families demonstrated outside a New Jersey courtroom after authorities say a newly ordained Roman Catholic priest has been charged with groping a teen girl under her skirt. 

The protesters say they want to see changes in the church to make sure children are safe. Most of them say they were victims of clergy abuse. They held signs that said things like, "Church can't protect kids, strong laws can"  and "End the limitations for sex abuse." 

Bob Hoatson, a former priest and victim of clergy abuse, was among those demonstrating outside of Morristown's courthouse Wednesday morning as Marcin Nurek prepared to face a judge.

"We're here to say that children are the priority, they must be the priority, and the church has to change its structure to enact better policies and procedures to protect them," he said. 

The alleged victim in Nurek's case isn't believed to have known him, and the alleged abuse didn't happen inside a church. 

Surveillance video captured a man allegedly following a group of girls and grabbing one of them. The video shows a group of four girls walking down Main Street in Boonton when a man with a backpack comes from behind. He grabs the buttocks of one of the girls, then takes off down the street. 

The 37-year-old man allegedly told the teenage girl she was "sexy," according to the Morris County prosecutor's office. 

The girl reported the incident to police, and the man with the backpack -- who allegedly turned out to be the Rev. Marcin Nurek -- was arrested on Essex Avenue about 20 minutes later, police say. 

He's charged with endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual contact.

The Diocese of Paterson put Nurek on administrative leave. He remains in jail pending a detention hearing on Wednesday. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney to comment on his behalf.

Nurek is an immigrant from Poland who arrived in the U.S. in March 2015, and was ordained into the priesthood in July. He was scheduled to begin his assignment at St. Catherine of Siena this month; his assignment has since been terminated. 

The Diocese of Paterson said that he had completed training regarding proper conduct with children and his international criminal background check in October 2014 was clear. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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