Forty-seven clergy members with ties to churches and schools in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties have been named as part of a report issued by the Diocese of Camden identifying clergy members with a history of child sex abuse.     

The list, released Wednesday, names 56 priests and one deacon, with some having ties to Blessed Sacrament in Margate, Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, St. Vincent de Paul in Mays Landing, St. Joseph in Hammonton and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Atlantic City.

Reached by phone, a number of South Jersey Catholic schools and churches deferred comment to the diocese Wednesday.

Thirty-three of the 47 clergy members with local ties are dead, 12 are removed from ministry and the current status of two are unknown, according to the list.

"Most of these incidents occurred in the 1970s and the 1980s and involved male teenagers. It should also be noted that the majority of these priests, all of whose names have been provided to local law-enforcement authorities, are dead," Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan wrote in a statement. "In many cases, a single allegation from 30 or 40 years ago was the only such charge that had ever been made against the priest and was received after he had died. Thus, he was unable to respond to the allegation."

One accused priest, Glendon Robertson, was the principal at Holy Spirit from 1965 to 1973 and then the secretary of education for the diocese until 1980. His successor at Holy Spirit, Brendan V. Sullivan, principal at the school until 1978, also appears on the list.

Brendan Sullivan was removed from the ministry in 2010 after a man anonymously reported an incident of abuse to the diocese that he claimed happened in Atlantic County in 1981 when he was 14 and Sullivan was with Assumption Parish in Atco, Camden County.

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said the state's investigation into clergy abuse is ongoing.

"While this is a positive first step towards transparency and accountability, I hope this spirit of openness continues during the course of our ongoing investigation and in response to our requests for records and information," Grewal said in a statement. 

Together, the state's five dioceses Wednesday listed more than 180 priests accused of sexually abusing minors over a span of decades.

"To be certain, the darkest stain on the Catholic Church in the last century was the sexual abuse of minors by priests," Bishop Sullivan wrote. "Unfortunately, we have all learned that this 'filth,' as Pope Benedict correctly called it, was more pervasive than anyone imagined, or even thought possible."

The Press of Atlantic City has previously reported on the allegations against some of the men named in the list.

Former Vineland priest John P. Connor was named in a Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August as well as in the report released Wednesday. According to court documents, Connor molested a 14-year-old child in 1984 in a trailer in Cape May County. Connor was assigned to Bishop Eustace Preparatory in Pennsauken Township, Camden County, at the time of the incident, according to the report.

A spokesman for the diocese said in August that Connor was stripped of his priestly duties in 2002 and is living in a facility in Missouri designed for priests with abusive backgrounds.

The Rev. Timothy Pisik pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and endangering a minor in 1991 stemming from incidents in 1989 through 1990 while he presided at St. Michael's Catholic Church in the Cedarville section of Lawrence Township. According to the list released Wednesday, Pisik also served at St. Thomas in Brigantine.

One entrant, Monsignor Philip Rigney, served at a number of New Jersey parishes, including Our Lady Star of the Sea and St. Joseph in Sea Isle City.

In 2002, a Superior Court judge dismissed charges brought against the diocese by two brothers, Philip and Robert Young, who claimed Rigney, a close family friend, abused them more than 100 times between 1974 and 1983. The judge in the case said they waited too long; the statute of limitations gave them until two years after their 18th birthdays.

"Even though the church was within its legal right to defend itself, it seems to me that the church's position in this matter is at odds with its stance as a moral force in society," Judge John Himmelberger Jr. said at the time. "From where I sit, playing legal hardball doesn't seem quite right."

Another priest on the list, the Rev. Peter Osinski, was ordained in 1969 and worked for 26 years in a number of parishes, including Sacred Heart High School in Vineland and St. John Bosco in Millville.

In March 1998, Osinski admitted that, between 1983 and 1990, he molested a boy from a family he was close with about a half dozen times at a rented summer home and another half dozen times while a guest at the family’s home in Gloucester Township.

In June of that year, his lawyer told a judge Osinski would rather go to prison than serve a sentence at an Avenel “sexual-offender treatment facility.” He was medicated and already seeing a therapist 40 hours a week, his attorney said.

A month later, Osinski was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, archbishop of Newark, announced in November that the Roman Catholic dioceses in New Jersey would undertake a complete review of their files so that by the beginning of 2019 the names of all priests and deacons who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors would be made public. 

The dioceses said then it would undertake this action in coordination with the attorney general's task force examining clergy sexual abuse.

The Attorney General's Office has set up a tip line for reporting clergy and other forms of sexual abuse at 855-363-6548.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact: 609-272-7239

Twitter @AublePressofAC

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