Dear Editor:

MESSAGE TO THE SCOTCH PLAINS FANWOOD COMMUNITY:

On March 27, 2019, I went public via an article on nj.com as the first known victim of Kevin Gugliotta, a priest who was assigned at Saint Bartholomew’s in Scotch Plains. 

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One week prior, on March 20, 2019, I participated in a Heal Our Church event at Saint Bartholomew’s, which was well attended. What I witnessed there was painfully familiar. Many parishioners expressed love, affection and trust in Kevin, and now a sense of deep betrayal. It was very clear that Kevin groomed boys, their families, and their community at large. 

I knew Kevin since I was a young child. He was a neighborhood kid, 10 years older than me, who was close with my older siblings and my entire family long before I joined the Boy Scouts at the age of 11 when he became my leader. He began to subtly and slowly abuse me starting at the age of 16.

Kevin, groomed me, groomed my family, and groomed my community, just as he did here at Saint Bartholomew’s.  This is why what I witnessed at St. Bartholomew’s is painfully familiar.  

I reported Kevin Gugliotta’s sexual abuse in great detail to the Archdiocese of Newark in 2003. He was suspended for a few months. In 2004, he was reinstated and by 2006 he was assigned at Saint Bartholomew’s less than three miles from my home. His duties there included being very involved with youth ministry. 

At the time, I figured I did all I could do and tried to move forward. For this reason, I was not aware of Gugliotta’s local assignment until recently. Although he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in 2017, he is no longer in jail.  He served his sentence and is out on probation. He is “removed from ministry” and at the same time remains a priest. 

In early March, I saw the news reports of another alleged victim, a young man who grew up in the Saint Bartholomew's parish, coming forward. This is what prompted me to go public. I knew I had to support him and encourage other alleged victims of Kevin Gugliotta, to come forward.  

If you are an alleged victim of Gugliotta’s please do not assume that this will all be taken care of now, and that the new victim and I are enough. I hoped that my report to the Archdiocese in 2003 would be enough to protect others, but it was not. 

In 1996, the criminal statutes of limitations were extended for childhood sexual abuse. However, those changes were not made retroactive and my alleged abuse occurred prior to 1996. Therefore, I was never in a position to hold Gugliotta criminally accountable. If you have a more recent report of abuse, you are in a much more powerful position to hold him accountable. 

What’s more is you may be able to hold Archbishop Myers and the Archdiocese of Newark accountable, leading to real change that will protect many others from harm. I ask that you please stand with me and this new victim.  I encourage you to call the Union County Prosecutors Office (908) 527-4500 and the NJ Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Hotline (855) 363-6548.

To others in the Saint Bartholomew’s community, please find my recent article and radio interviews and other related articles, which I have shared publicly on Facebook. Read and listen to them and share them. Show any victims of child sexual abuse still standing in the shadows that you believe me and that you will believe them.

Support them and encourage them to rise up. Only then can we discover what led to such poor decisions to keep Gugliotta in ministry and around youth. Only then can we hold him and others involved fully accountable. I truly stand in support of all victims and the entire Saint Bartholomew’s community.

Michael T. Mautone

(Kevin Gugliotta was ordained in 1996 and and during his career was assigned as follows: St Rose of Lima, Short Hills; St. Elizabeth, Wychoff;  Seton Hall University, Campus Ministry; St Joseph's, West Orange; St. Bartholomew's, Scotch Plains;  Ramapo College, Campus Ministry; Immaculate Conception, Mahwah; Holy Spirit, Union.)