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The Diocese of Camden will continue to update the list of 57 clergy accused of child sex abuse it released Wednesday, but the list has still shaken some parishioners’ faith in the church.

“From this point forward, any new credible allegation, no matter when the incident occurred, will be added to the list maintained on the diocesan website,” said Michael J. Walsh, director of communications for the diocese.

The last reported incident occurred in 1995, according to Walsh.

Joanne Schweitzer McGaha attended 12 years of Catholic school, first at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cape May and then graduating from Wildwood Catholic in 1970.

“When I was growing up, you had the utmost respect for a priest. You would never even think of something like this, and it’s just sad,” said Schweitzer McGaha, of Cape May. “I think it’s just an awful thing that the church would cover it up, and they’re still covering it up.”

The Diocese of Camden said it must inform law enforcement of any allegation by virtue of a 2002 memorandum of understanding. Any new claims are turned over to county prosecutors.

“The release of the names was not a matter of justice, but of informing the public of credible accusations. While certainly people who read the list will draw conclusions, it cannot be used as a formal declaration of guilt or innocence,” Walsh said. “However, the diocese, in its duty to the victims and survivors, has always made their needs primary.”

Schweitzer McGaha said she attended Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cape May under three clergy named in the list: Patrick Madden, Augustine J. Seidenburg and William Titmas, all of whom have since died.

“The three I know are already dead, so nothing can really happen to them,” she said.

Schweitzer McGaha said one memory stood out to her from around 1975. She was going to the rectory to pick up paperwork for her brother’s wedding and said Titmas opened the rectory door wearing what she described as a Speedo bathing suit.

Titmas, who was named in a 1993 class action lawsuit with seven other priests against the Camden Diocese, went on sick leave and then retired in 1995.

On Monday, all the dioceses of New Jersey announced the Independent Victims Compensation Program, which would provide money to some people abused as children by clergy members.

“The program provides victims and survivors a quicker and transparent process to resolve their claims with a significantly lower level of proof and corroboration than required in a court of law,” Walsh said.

State Sen. Joseph Vitale and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, both Democrats, announced Thursday a bill extending the statute of limitations on civil claims is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate judiciary committee early next month.

The legislation would allow child victims to sue up until they turn 55 or within seven years of their first realization that the abuse caused them harm. The current limit is two years. Adult victims also would have seven years from the discovery of the abuse.

The bill also would give a two-year window to victims who were previously barred by the statute of limitations.

“We need to give victims more time to bring their cases, and we need to do it now,” Vitale said in a statement. “Not one more victim should be turned away and denied their day in court.”

Schweitzer McGaha said she still attends church, but for the Mass itself. She said she has lost a good deal of her former respect for priests.

“It’s a shame because I’m sure there’s a lot of priests out there that are good priests, but if I had a young child today, I truly don’t know if I would want them to be an altar server and be alone with a priest,” she said. “It’s an awful thing to say, but that’s how I feel.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact: 609-272-7239 aauble@pressofac.com Twitter @AublePressofAC

Staff Writer

I report breaking news and cover the local stories at the Press's digital desk. I grew up in South Jersey and graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2017 with a degree in English.

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