Father John Banko
Diocese of Metuchen/Baltimore/Trenton
Removed from ministry: 2000
Assignments in the Diocese of Metuchen:
- St Edward’s Roman Catholic Church (Milford, NJ)
- Mary Mother of God Church (Hillsborough, NJ)
- St. Pius X High School (Piscataway, NJ)
- St. Charles Borromeo (Montgomery Twp., NJ)
- St. Edward (Milford, NJ)
- Mary, Mother of God (Hillsborough, NJ)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father John Banko:
Father John Banko was ordained a priest in 1972 and served in the Diocese of Metuchen. He served in multiple parishes throughout his career. According to media reports, in 2000, law enforcement began an investigation into Father Banko, known to his parishioners as “Father Jack,” after a former altar boy came forward with allegations of inappropriate touching and sexual assault. The victim alleged Father Banko had sexually molested him two consecutive Sundays after Mass between September 1993 and September 1994. He kept secret until December 1999, after years of struggling with depression.
The prosecutor said that there were other similar allegations from other victims who had stepped forward during their investigation, but the crimes could not be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations expiring. At the trial on the first victim’s charges, three of the victims testified and recalled the abuse happening in a small changing room where they were forced to perform sexual acts on the priest. After testifying, the first victim said that Father Banko told him that his parents would be harmed if he ever told anyone about the abuse.
At trial, Father Banko testified in his own defense and denied all of the allegations but was convicted of all the charges against him: aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
In 2008, another allegation was made against the priest, who was charged with additional crimes. In that matter, The victim testified that between the ages of 9 and 10, Father Banko sexually assaulted him on more than one occasion. The victim didn’t tell anyone until he reported the abuse to his mother in 2005. Father Banko was found guilty of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child and sentenced to 26 more years. He was also determined to be a “repetitive and compulsive sexual offender” following an evaluation at Adult Diagnostic Center in Avenel. Father Banko died in 2016. He remained a priest on leave even after his second conviction.
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