A former Burlington County priest who has held several senior positions within the Diocese of Trenton has been removed from ministry effective immediately following an allegation that he sexually abused a minor about 40 years ago, the diocese announced Saturday.
The alleged abuse by Msgr. Gregory D. Vaughan “dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s” when he was a parochial vicar at St. Ann Parish in Keansburg, Monmouth County, the diocesan statement says.
Citing an interest in protecting the accuser’s identity, the diocese did not provide additional details about the alleged abuse, saying only that it is the sole allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Vaughan, who was ordained in 1972. He has denied the allegation, the diocese said.
It reported the allegation to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office upon learning of it, the diocese said.
“The allegations were investigated by this office and were found to be outside the statute of limitations and no charges were filed, therefore a referral was made back to the Diocese of Trenton,” a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office said in an email Saturday night.
The diocese determined the allegation against Vaughan to be credible after interviewing his alleged victim. That prompted his removal from ministry by Bishop David M. O’Connell. He had been pastor of St. Catharine Parish in Holmdel, Monmouth County, since 2013.
Vaughan, who is either 72 or 73 based on the birth year provided by the diocese, has served exclusively in the Trenton Diocese, with assignments in St. Charles Borromeo in Cinnaminson, Burlington County; St. Ann in Keansburg and St. Mary in Middletown, both in Monmouth County; and at St. Raphael in Hamilton, Mercer County.
Vaughan also formerly served the diocese as vicar for Catholic education, chancellor, vicar general, moderator of the curia, and director of vocations.
Notice of the sexual abuse allegation against him will be reported in all parishes where Vaughan has served, and to church officials in Rome, the diocese said.
The statement called on parishioners “to remember in prayer all those impacted by this alleged abuse, and all victims who have been harmed as children by abuse of any kind.”