Abuser priest snared in text message sting
Trap laid by former victim led to 1,200 messages in a month
Picture from the St. Aloysius church, Jackson NJ, website.
- Mark Mueller for Religion News Service/The Star-Ledger
- United States
- October 3, 2013
The text messages read as if they’ve been ripped from a pornographic novel.
Matthew Riedlinger quizzed his texting partner about sex videos, pressed for details about intimate liaisons, described sexual acts and encouraged mutual masturbation.
He also repeatedly asked to meet. “Promise me you will never breath (sic) a word of this to anyone — ok?” he wrote.
Riedlinger, 30, had good reason for discretion. He was a priest at St. Aloysius Church in Jackson, N.J., and while exchanging more than 1,200 text messages over four weeks last year, he thought he was talking to a 16-year-old boy.
In reality, Riedlinger was the target of an elaborate sting by a 23-year-old man who says the priest sexually harassed him for years.
Timothy Schmalz, who lives in Washington after graduating from Catholic University, said he was moved to action after his first complaint about Riedlinger in 2011 resulted in what he characterized as a slap on the wrist by Trenton Bishop David M. O’Connell.
Schmalz is one of five young men who provided similar accounts of harassment and sexual obsession by the priest. Four of the five were in their late teens or early 20s when Riedlinger began inappropriate and persistent sexual dialogues with them, they said. The fifth was in his late 20s.
The sting, initiated on Facebook and carried out through the use of a Google Voice account, partially served its purpose.
After Schmalz forwarded transcripts of the text messages and other materials to O’Connell in August 2012, Riedlinger was removed from the parish and placed in an in-patient treatment program. He was later assigned to restricted ministry away from children.
Source: Religion News Service