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METUCHEN, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A New Jersey priest has been put on a leave of absence, owing to allegations of homosexual abuse of minors.
Bishop James F. Checchio of the diocese of Metuchen published a letter on Sunday addressing Our Lady of Mount Virgin parish in Middlesex, New Jersey. The letter explained that Fr. Patrick Kuffner is on a leave of absence from the parish, owing to allegations of sex abuse.
Three men have come forward accusing the priest of molesting them when they were mere schoolboys and Kuffner was still a layperson, teaching at a school on Staten Island.
Two of the three men's accusations have been dismissed because they were beyond the statutes of limitation.
Bishop Checchio's letter to the parish is also on the diocesan website. It explains, "Three law enforcement agencies were initially involved in investigating these claims; two have determined that the statute of limitations has lapsed, the investigation by one agency is ongoing."
The bishop adds, "Since it would not be right or possible for Fr. Kuffner to exercise his pastoral responsibilities toward you with these charges pending, he will be on a leave of absence and cannot function as a priest."
Clerical sex abuse is largely linked to homosexuality. According to several surveys, an overwhelming majority of priest sex abuse involves homosexual abuse against young men between the ages of 10–18.
Father Kuffner, prior to becoming a priest, was a teacher and coach in the early 1980s at Sacred Heart School in West Brighton on Staten Island. It is thought that some of the alleged abuse occurred during that time.
During the 1990s, Kuffner worked elsewhere in the Staten Island Catholic Schools. He worked as assistant principal at Moore Catholic High School and as principal at St. Peter's Elementary School.
He was ordained a priest in 2002 at the age of 53, after studying at the John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.
Before his time working in Catholic schools, Kuffner had previously considered entering the priesthood and spent some time in formation at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York. He left that to pursue his career in Catholic education.
After his ordination, Fr. Kuffner served as parochial vicar for about three years at St. Bartholomew Parish in East Brunswick.
Father Kuffner is the latest in a handful of priests in the diocese of Metuchen who have been accused of sex abuse.