NJ Clergyman Subject to Child Sexual Assault Criminal Complaint
A decade-old case is being reopened in New Jersey in regards to priest sexually assaulting a fifteen year old boy. That boy, Max Rojas Ramirez, is now 28 years old, and he is pressing a criminal complaint in order for “justice to be served”. He is seeking a formal charge as soon as possible, but first the NJ Superior Court must be able to find probable cause in order to issue an arrest warrant, since this is an indictable offense.
Timeline: The alleged assailant, Gallo Espinoza, fled to Ecuador following the initial report, but then returned to the US in 2005 and began teaching in Maryland and Virginia schools. He again disappeared in 2014, but has since reached out to the media in an attempt to contact Ramirez.
Defense: Espinosa has made statements which blamed the then-teenager and claimed that the sexual assault was a mistake, but consensual. He said, “I didn’t force him to do anything he didn’t want…I think that I was attracted to him, that is the only explanation that I can think right now.” This does not take into account that a fifteen year old cannot legally consent to sexual relations with an adult.
Ramirez’s Story: The sexual assault in question occurred around Easter of 2003, when Ramirez said that he was “held down and raped” in the rectory. He had previously been an altar server, and an active member of the church’s youth group. He is being assisted by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, and is strong in his criticism of the courts for not addressing this case in the 13 years since it happened. The case has been lodged in the Union County Prosecutors’ Office, who is seeking out Ramirez for questioning regarding the case.
Fallout: Following the incident, he was severely traumatized, and fell into drug abuse and psychiatric care. He is currently in therapy and clean from the drug use, and wishes for justice to finally be served in the case that has haunted him throughout his life. The state of New Jersey has abolished the statute of limitations for sexual assault since 1996, so the case is still eligible to be reopened and investigated.
Legal Options: Unfortunately, sexual assault cases such as this one are far too common in this day and age. If you have been victimized by a member of the clergy or other person, it’s important to seek out an attorney who understands the legal nuances of this sensitive topic. For an accomplished legal team, we at Zapicchi & Liller LLP have years of experience to put to work for you. Give us a call today to get the support you need, and to begin down the path of closure and healing. For a free consultation, we can be reached at 609-291-9500, and our conversation will be confidential.