What to Know
- A former altar boy is suing a New Jersey church over abuse he said he suffered at the hands of a priest for years.
- Justin Hoffman, 29, said he was sexually abused by Father Brendan Sullivan inside the former St. James Parish in Ventnor, New Jersey.
- On Monday, Gov. Murphy signed legislation to ease restrictions on when childhood sexual abuse victims can seek damages in court.
A former altar boy is suing a New Jersey church over abuse he said he suffered at the hands of a priest for years.
Justin Hoffman, 29, said he was sexually abused by Father Brendan Sullivan inside the former St. James Parish—now Holy Trinity Parish – in Ventnor, New Jersey.
Hoffman said the abuse began when he was in 2nd grade and lasted until high school. Some of the abuse also took place on the priest’s boat, according to Hoffman.
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“There isn’t a friendship between a 65 or 70-year-old priest and a 9-year-old boy,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman, a Navy vet, said he was inspired by the #MeToo movement when he decided to file a lawsuit against Holy Trinity Parish, the Diocese of Camden, and Nicholas DiMarcio, the bishop at the time of the alleged abuse.
“When you are with an authority figure when you are young, you don’t know if something that they are doing is right or wrong and I shouldn’t have been expected to know,” Hoffman said.
Sullivan is no longer alive. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Camden told NBC10 Sullivan was banned as a priest post-retirement in 2010 for a different abuse allegation.
The announcement of the lawsuit comes a day after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation easing restrictions on when childhood sexual abuse victims can seek damages in court.
“We’re proud that survivors like Justin and others have an opportunity to seek justice,” Hoffman’s attorney David Cedar said.
Hoffman is a recovering alcoholic and no longer affiliated with the Catholic faith.
“I identify as an atheist and I think the best way to come to that conclusion is to have an understanding of how religion works,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman hopes the new law will help others speak up and begin to heal from a journey that has altered their lives.