Brother Robert “Edmund” Coakley, O.F.M.
Archdiocese of Newark / Franciscan Friars
Assigned as follows:
- Assumption School (Emerson, New Jersey)
Summary of Abuse Allegations against Brother Robert “Edmund” Coakley:
Brother Robert “Edmund” Coakley was a member of the Franciscan Friars who served in the Archdiocese of Newark. He also worked as a teacher and a Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America within the Archdiocese of Newark. According to media reports, in 1978, two brothers, aged 14 and 11, accused Brother Coakley of sexually abusing them while he was their Scoutmaster. He denied the charges at first. Then he claimed “he had been seduced” by the younger boy. He was removed and sent to the Ohio-based headquarters of the Franciscan Brothers of the Poor.
For the younger brother, the abuse continued through the summer camp session and into the school year. After suffering from a deep depression the boy later killed himself at age 12. The family filed a lawsuit in 1980. According to the suit, Brother Coakley made the boy sleep in his trailer, and allegedly forced him to simulate rape scenes, some of which were recorded. The abuse continued at the Assumption School and the friary. He threatened to kill the boys with a rifle if they told anyone.
The case was later dismissed because of the New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act. No criminal charges were filed because the family had not told law enforcement officials until after the boy died. Brother Coakley’s name appeared in the Perversion Files released by the Boy Scouts of America in 2012. He died in 1988.
Edmund Coakley’s name is included in the extensive perversion files of the Boy Scouts of America. These are the files the Boy Scouts kept on adult leaders and volunteers who committed various crimes and sexual offenses. In the 2023 documentary film Scouts Honor about the sexual abuse scandal within the Boy Scouts of America, a man named Richard Schultz shared the tragic story of his younger brother Christopher. Both brothers attended a local Catholic school in Emerson, New Jersey where Coakley was a teacher. In 1978, the priest and local scout leader Edmund Coakley used Richard as leverage to gain the family’s trust and target his younger brother Christopher. Scouts Honor tells the haunting reality of Coakley performing “sadomasochistic sexual acts” on Christopher at a camp over a weekend. The documentary details how Christopher’s behavior changed as a result of the abuse. Christopher had panic attacks and hallucinations, and eventually, the young 12-year-old boy heartbreakingly took his own life.
Christopher Schultz’s death forced Coakley to leave the church and flee the state; however, he was not convicted. The Schultz family had to endure scrutiny from the church and the entire community. A parish priest once came to visit the family and chastised them to deter the family from reporting them to the authorities. “[It was] the length that certain people were going to to try and get you to shut up and get this to go away to protect the church,” said Richard.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused in the Archdiocese of Newark, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Newark now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey and nationwide. We can help.