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TRENTON — A New Jersey priest was sentenced to four years in prison Monday for sexually assaulting a teenage girl nearly three decades ago.

With his sentencing Monday, the Rev. Thomas P. Ganley, 64, of Phillipsburg, N.J. became the first defendant to be charged and convicted by the Clergy Abuse Task Force formed by Attorney General Grewal in September 2018.

The sentencing was announced Monday by Grewal and Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey. Ganley pleaded guilty in April to the charge of second degree sexual assault of the victim who was was 16 or 17 years old. Ganley was a priest at Saint Cecelia Church in Woodbridge and was head of the Youth Ministry for the parish when the assaults occurred between 1990 and 1994.

Ganley was charged in January, just two days after the victim had called the state's clergy abuse hotline, 855-363-6548.

Ganley must now register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and is prohibited from having contact with the victim or having unsupervised contact with any minor, according to the N.J. Attorney General's office.

“This prison sentence demonstrates that we take these allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members very seriously and will act swiftly to secure justice for survivors,” Grewal said in a press release. “This case also shows that, even if the abuse occurred many years ago, charges may still be viable and we will pursue them vigorously. Where charges are in fact time-barred, we will work equally hard to determine if the Church was aware of the abuse but failed to take action or prevent it from recurring, which will be the subject of a state grand jury presentment and report. We’ll do everything in our power to expose these past wrongs and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

“This is the first conviction for our Task Force, but it should not be the last, as long as other survivors and witnesses see that justice can be served and are encouraged to come forward,” said former Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino.

List of clergy accused of child sex abuse:

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