Settlement reached in NJ priest sex assault case

April 8, 2010 3:41:29 PM PDT
A legal settlement was reached Thursday in sexual assault and harassment allegations that scandalized Catholic dioceses in New Jersey and Florida. The case involves a woman allegedly stalked and assaulted by a priest, and claims that former Newark Archbishop Theodore McCarrick knew about it.

"He is a Catholic priest and a felon," the victim's attorney, Adam Horowitz, said.

And the story of Fr. Wladyslaw Gorak sounds nothing like that of a priest. Instead, it resembles that of a predator, after Gorak was convicted of stalking a 50-year-old woman he met at his parish in Elizabeth.

"He'd follow her to the shopping center, to the mall," Horowitz said. "She'd look over her shoulder and there he was."

That was, until his behavior turned violent. He broke into her new home in Florida.

"She ran upstairs to escape from him," Horowitz said. "He grabbed her clothes, pulled her clothes off. She lunged for the telephone, he pulled the telephone jack out of the wall. She ran outside in her bra and panties."

Fr. Gorak was convicted of burglary assault, false imprisonment and aggravated stalking. And in yet another shocking lawsuit against the church, there were also accusations of a cover up.

A confidential memo from Fr. Gorak's supervisor dating back to 1998 referred to Gorak's embracing and kissing of women in the parish, saying it was the third time he had been talked to about his behavior. At least one witness in the case gave a deposition that said the information was brought to the attention of higher-ups in Newark, including Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

"The Archdiocese of Newark was fully aware that Fr. Gorak had alleged dangerous sexual propensities with women," Horowitz said.

The archdiocese, however, tells a completely different story. Officials say the memo was never given to the higher ups.

"That memo was never printed, never delivered to the chancery," diocese spokesman Jim Goodness said. "It remained in that priest's computer until the time the lawsuit came up."

And when asked if the church could've overlooked the priest's behavior, Goondness said that was not the case.

"I would not say overlooked," he said. "We were not aware there were issues."

But Mark Crawford, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), insists that is simply not true.

"We demand that these secrets, the lies, the untruths, stop immediately," Crawford said.