Monsignor Philip T. Rigney
Diocese of Camden
Permanently suspended: 2002
Assigned as follows:
- Our Lady Star of the Sea (Atlantic City, NJ)
- Immaculate Conception (Camden, NJ)
- St. Joseph (East Camden, NJ)
- Sacred Heart (Mt. Ephraim, NJ)
- Holy Maternity (Audubon, NJ)
- St. Joseph (Sea Isle, NJ)
- St. Francis de Sales (Barrington, NJ)
- Queen of Peace (Pitman, NJ)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Monsignor Philip T Rigney:
Monsignor Philip T Rigney had three separate allegations of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Camden. The first allegation came from a teenager who had run away from home. Rigney invited the victim to live with him at St. Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral in Camden and subsequently raped him or her (the gender of the victim has not been disclosed publicly).
The next victims were two brothers and they claimed that Rigney assaulted them hundreds of times between the 1970s and early 1980s.
The first brother said Rigney first attacked him when he was 9 and on a camping trip to Disney World. The abuse started with fondling and quickly escalated to masturbation and oral sex. The assaults continued for 9 years in rectories in Camden and Barrington, on family vacations, and on trips to the priest’s Shore house in Beach Haven West.
The second brother, who was named after the priest, said Rigney molested him more than 150 times, beginning when he was 12 years old.
Rigney’s Leadership Role in the Camden Diocese
At the time of the brothers’ abuse, Rigney was serving as Vicar of the Clergy, a top post within the Diocese of Camden. He also held other senior positions, including Director of Vocations, and was in charge of recruiting new priests and nuns, a position some claim allowed Rigney to ensure a continuous inflow of child molesters such as himself into the Camden Diocese.
When the boys’ mother reported the abuse to Bishop Guilfoyle in 1984, the Bishop confronted Rigney and wrote in a memo that Rigney “did not deny” the assaults. According to the victims’ mother, Guilfoyle promised her he would remove Rigney and send him for counseling.
However, the priest received no counseling, nor was he removed from ministry. He was transferred from St. Francis de Sales in Barrington to Our Lady Queen of Peace in Pitman before retiring as a priest in good standing in 1986.
Rigney later went to work part-time at a church in Jupiter, Florida, carrying a letter of recommendation from Bishop James T. McHugh, Guilfoyle’s successor. The Diocese of Palm Beach now says it was unaware of any of the allegations that had been made against Rigney.
When church leaders in the Diocese of Palm Beach discovered the accusations in 2002, they immediately suspended Rigney from ministry.
Rigney’s name appears on the Diocese of Camden’s list of credibly accused priests, published in February 2019. According to Bishop Sullivan, the list, “includes those who admitted to the abuse, those who were found guilty after a trial in the church courts or the civil courts, and others against whom the evidence was so overwhelming as to be virtually unquestionable.”
Rigney died in 2005.
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Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Camden in New Jersey. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in New Jersey, contact our office today. In October 2020, the Camden Diocese filed for federal bankruptcy protection. The Court will resolve all claims of sexual abuse in this process but strict filing deadlines will apply and no late claims will be considered, so contact us today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey and nationwide. We can help.
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