Is the Camden Diocese Worse Than Others When it Comes to Clergy Sex Crimes?

| Apr 16, 2021 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Pedestrians early Friday along Market St. outside the Diocese of Camden at 631 Market St. in Camden, NJ on Friday morning October 2, 2020. Reports that the diocese is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Is it just our impression or does the Camden Catholic diocese have a greater problem with clergy sex crimes and cover ups than most dioceses?

That’s of course hard to determine and fundamentally unfair.

The phrase “more than most” is vague, especially given that there are about 180 Catholic dioceses across the United States.

A better metric to consider is this: How does the rate of clergy sex abuse in the Diocese of Camden compare to dioceses of about the same size?

And using this scale, indeed, our hunch that there are more child molesting clerics in Camden than other places seems to be right.

According to and, the Camden diocese has a Catholic population of 458,000.

So Camden is just a little BIGGER than the San Francisco archdiocese (425,000 Catholics), the Paterson NJ diocese (420,000 Catholics), the Rockford IL diocese (420,000 Catholics) and

Camden has 68 publicly accused predators.

But San Francisco has only 37 publicly accused predators.

Paterson has only 41 publicly accused predators.

Camden’s a little SMALLER than the Las Vegas diocese (544,519 Catholics), the Oakland diocese (520,301 Catholics, the Sacramento diocese (520,301), and the Cincinnati archdiocese (512,146).

But Las Vegas has only eight alleged predators.

Oakland has 44 alleged predators.

Sacramento has only 49 alleged predators.

Cincinnati has only 50 alleged predators.

So based solely on the statistics, Catholics and citizens in the Camden area have, sadly, experienced more clergy sex crimes than in dioceses of roughly the same size.

What makes this especially sad, however, is that it shouldn’t be like this.

Way back in 1993, Camden Catholic officials got one of the earliest and most dramatic ‘wake up’ calls about this crisis.

That year, a man named Gary Hayes filed a groundbreaking lawsuit charging that he was sexually violated as a child by two clerics: Fr. Joseph F. McGarvey of Camden and Fr. William C. O’Connell of Rhode Island.

The case groundbreaking in two ways.

First, Hayes was from the Camden diocese and was abused in the Camden diocese. When he sued, he was also a Catholic priest.

Hayes thus became the first US Catholic cleric to essentially sue his boss for ignoring and concealing abuse.

Second, Hayes’ lawsuit was the first in the US to cite RICO statutes. This is a law designed to help pursue justice against organized crime figures.

In a moving news conference, Hayes opened his remarks with this chilling phrase: “Today, I’m seeking justice in the courts because I can find no justice in my church.”

As one would expect, the case attracted considerable nation-wide coverage. And it should have given Camden’s church hierarchy ample opportunity and incentive to really work hard to stop child sex crimes and cover ups.

But we at Horowitz Law see no evidence that this was done. And the numbers seem to bear out our view.

So what can be done about this?

Well, for starters, we’re urging anyone in Camden who saw, suspected or suffered abuse to come forward and get help. This is especially important since there’s a June 30, 2021 deadline to seek help under the diocese’s bankruptcy plan.

After that deadline, it’s still possible for victims to win justice and expose predators. But it’s considerably tougher.

And if you know of others who grew up Catholic in the Camden area, ask them if they were sexually violated in any way by any Camden church employee. Then please spread the word about this deadline and ask them to do likewise.

We want every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Camden to at least consider taking advantage of this opportunity.

(McGarvey worked in these New Jersey towns: Camden, East Camden, Pennsauken, Gloucester, Woodstown, Elmer and Millville. In 1994, he pled guilty to sexual assault and making child porn. One lawsuit involving McGarvey was settled for $384,000 and another in the high five figures.)

(O’Connell worked in these Rhode Island towns: Wakefield, Matanuck, Riverside, Warwick, Providence, Central Falls, North Tiverton, Bristol and Hog Island. He was also a Navy chaplain.

In 1986, O’Connell pleaded no contest to sex assaults on about a dozen boys and was sentenced to five years in prison.’Connell_William_C.htm

Contact us today Regarding Your Claim Against the Camden Diocese.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Camden in New Jersey.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in New Jersey, contact our office today. In October 2020, the Camden Diocese filed for federal bankruptcy protection.  The Court will resolve all claims of sexual abuse in this process but a strict filing deadline of June 30 will apply and no late claims will be considered, so contact us today.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.