STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A New Jersey priest who worked on Staten Island as a layperson and teacher decades ago has been arrested by law enforcement officials on three counts of child sex assault.
Rev. Patrick Kuffner was arrested on Nov. 20 on charges of sexual assault of a minor in connection with incidents that allegedly occurred when he was a layperson in Massachusetts, according to the Diocese of Metuchen.
“While the alleged crimes date back to the early 1980s, more than 35 years ago, and involve an incident from before Fr. Kuffner was a priest or even a seminarian, the charges are nevertheless shocking and are being taken seriously by the Diocese of Metuchen,” said Anthony P. Kearns III, Esq., spokesman and chancellor of the Diocese of Metuchen.
Father Kuffner was arrested on a fugitive warrant from Hampden, Mass., a spokesperson from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office told the Advance.
He has waived extradition back to Massachusetts, the spokesperson added.
The three alleged assaults happened when Father Kuffner was in Hampden County, according to Patch.com.
Father Kuffner, 72, is currently being held without bail in Ocean County, according to online court records. His lawyer was not publicly listed.
In 2002, an outside law firm and the chancellor of the Diocese of Metuchen started an audit on all allegations of sexual abuse against priests.
“Upon further review of the diocese’s records, there was nothing in Fr. Kuffner’s background check – a screening that is required of all seminarians and priests – or in Fr. Kuffner’s behavior to suggest he could be capable of the alleged acts,” said Kearns. “There have been no known allegations against Fr. Kuffner, regarding any type of abuse, since he became a priest.”
Father Kuffner was dismissed from his position of pastor for Our Lady of Mount Virgin in Middlesex, N.J., in February 2018 after he was accused by three people of sexual abuse that occurred during his time as a layman and teacher on Staten Island more than 30 years ago, according to a letter from Metuchen Bishop James F. Checchio at the time.
Some of those allegations stemmed from his time as a teacher and basketball coach at Sacred Heart in West Brighton in the early 1980s, the Advance reported.
Before his time at Our Lady of Mount Virgin, Father Kuffner, who was ordained in 2002 at the age of 53, served as parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew Parish in East Brunswick, N.J., until 2005, according to a report from MyCentralJersey.
After his time as a teacher at Sacred Heart, the Silver Lake native became an assistant principal at Moore Catholic High School, and went on to serve as principal for St. Peter’s Elementary School in New Brighton from 1993 to 1998, according to Advance records.
In addition to his role at St. Peter’s Elementary School, Father Kuffner served as the interim principal for St. Peter’s Girl’s High School in the 1997-98 school year before deciding to join the priesthood, according to Advance records.