JACKSON—A Catholic priest who once ministered to a congregation in Jackson has taken a leave of absence following a sexting scandal with a man he reportedly thought was a 16-year-old boy.
Father Matthew Riedlinger preached at St. Aloysius Church in Jackson until August of 2012, when he entered counseling following complaints of inappropriate cell phone text conversations with other adults, according to church leadership.
While in out-patient treatment, Riedlinger continued having sexual conversations, prompting the Diocese of Trenton to remove him from St. Aloysius Church.
Timothy Schmalz, 23, of Washington D.C. complained to the Diocese in 2011 about Riedlinger’s behavior, saying the priest sexually harassed him, according to The Star-Ledger. To expose Riedlinger, Schmalz pretended online to be a 16-year-old boy and recorded text message conversations between himself and Riedlinger, and later forwarded them onto the Diocese, according to the newspaper. Schmalz declined an interview with the Asbury Park Press.
The Diocese of Trenton did not address details of the complaints in its statement, but said last week: “There was no sexual contact, assault or abuse referenced in the complaints.”
The Diocese also reported the matter to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Prosecutor’s Office, said no criminal action was taken.
“The undercover sting that they did was done by a non-law enforcement person. There was nothing we were able to do,” Della Fave said.
After his removal from St. Aloysius, Riedlinger entered a residential treatment center where he was supervised, according to the Diocese. He was also not permitted “to minister in a parish or school setting.” However, he was permitted to participate in restricted ministry work, but only with Diocese permission.
SOURCE: http://www.app.com/article/20130929/NJNEWS/309290069/Matthew-Riedlinger-priest-St-Aloysius-Jackson-leave-after-reported-sexting-scandal?nclick_check=1, http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AbuseTracker/