SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Father Kevin Gugliotta, who served the parishioners at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Scotch Plains for several years as a youth minister, has been arrested in Ocean County for possession and distribution of child pornography, according to multiple news reports.
A criminal docket from a Wayne County, Pennsylvania, magisterial court listed 20 allegations against the priest for possession and distribution of photographs or video of children in sex acts, according to a report by the Asbury Park Press. The activities allegedly took place on Gulgiotta's personal computer at his vacation home in Pennsylvania. He awaits extradition from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.
St. Bart's parishioners are shocked by the news.
"He was a youth minister at our parish. I would trust him with my own child. I'm just devastated," said one Scotch Plains mom who spoke to TAPintoSPF under condition of anonymity.
In a notice to parishioners of St. Bartholomew Church, Fr. John Paladino, Pastor and Fr. David Santos, Parochial Vicar, wrote:
Please know that during his time with us at St. Bartholomew no one ever alleged any such conduct by Fr. Kevin. Along with the Archdiocese of Newark, we take very seriously any and all complaints of sexual misconduct.
Aware that Fr. Kevin has served this community for several years, this news is devastating to our families. With that in mind, we assure you of our presence and prayers during these difficult days.
The Archdiocese of Newark removed the Gugliotta, 54, from his ministry at Holy Spirit Church in Union. He was pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Mahwah from May 2015 – August 2016, according to his LinkedIn page. James Goodness, Vice Chancellor and Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Newark issued the following statement:
Earlier this month, law enforcement officials from Pennsylvania advised the Archdiocese that Father Kevin Gugliotta, a priest of the Archdiocese, was suspected of possession and dissemination of child pornography.
Father’s activities are alleged to have occurred in Pennsylvania, where he maintains a vacation home, using his personal laptop. There are no allegations that he may have engaged in similar activities in New Jersey.
Upon learning this information, Archbishop John J. Myers immediately removed Father Gugliotta from ministry, and ordered him to vacate his most recent parish assignment and keep the Archdiocese and law enforcement informed of his whereabouts while the authorities in Pennsylvania continued developing their case.
The Archdiocese has maintained regular contact with the authorities in Pennsylvania while this matter has developed during their investigation, but deferred making any preliminary statement about any arrest of Father Gugliotta so as not to affect or interfere in any way with the actions of law enforcement resulting from the investigation.
On Friday, October 21, Pennsylvania authorities advised the Archdiocese that New Jersey law enforcement officials had taken Father Gugliotta into custody as a fugitive from justice. Today, the authorities in Pennsylvania advised the Archdiocese that they have arrested Father Gugliotta. Arrangements are now underway to extradite him to Pennsylvania.
As the Wayne County PA District Attorney reminds in a statement issued today concerning the arrest, it is important to remember that the American system of justice assumes the presumption of innocence of the accused. This is a serious and difficult matter that must proceed, as required, through the court process of the State of Pennsylvania. As a result, the Archdiocese is not in a position to discuss the details of Father Gugliotta’s situation at this time.
The Archdiocese of Newark takes very seriously any and all complaints of sexual misconduct by members of the Clergy, Religious and lay staff of the Archdiocese, its parishes and schools. Anyone with knowledge of an act of sexual misconduct is encouraged to inform the Archdiocese immediately so that it may take appropriate action and provide support to the victim. Information on how to report abuse to the Archdiocese and County Prosecutors can be found here.