A priest at St. Martha Roman Catholic Church in Point Pleasant Borough is facing sex charges in connection with a sex act involving a teen male, authorities announced Thursday.
The Rev. Román Nilo S. Apura, 67, was taken into custody by detectives with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit at his residence at the Herbertsville Road parish, though according to the Diocese of Trenton, the victim had no connection to St. Martha.
According to prosecutors, it is alleged that Apura masturbated the teenage male victim in a home in Trenton on an occasion during the late spring or early summer period of 2014. A second incident occurred in June 2014 when Apura attempted to remove the same victim’s pants.
The charges came after the Diocese of Trenton reported the allegations to the prosecutor’s office earlier this week and an investigation ensued, Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr. said in a prepared statement.
According to a statement from the diocese, church officials learned of the alleged incident on Monday.
“The complaint was based on abuse alleged to have taken place in Trenton,” the statement said. “It is the only complaint that we have received about Father Apura, and it has no connection to St. Martha Parish in Point Pleasant, where he has been serving as pastor.”
Bishop David M. O’Connell has suspended Apura, effective immediately, pending the outcome of the investigation by law enforcement and recommendations from the Diocesan Review Board, the statement from the diocese said. The suspension prohibits Apura from celebrating Mass publicly, wearing priestly garb, or presenting himself as a priest.
Apura has been charged with one count of second degree endangering the welfare of a child, one count of third degree aggravated criminal sexual contact and one count of fourth degree attempt to commit criminal sexual contact. Prosecutors said he had been held at the Mercer County Correction Center in lieu of $100,000 cash or bond bail, though he was not listed as an inmate on the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department website Thursday afternoon.
As conditions of bail, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. ordered that Apura surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim or any other children.
According to The Monitor, the newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton, Apura became pastor in July 2012. He had also served as parochial vicar at St. Mary Cathedral, Trenton, and St. Maximilian Kolbe in Toms River, as well as a number of parishes in northern Monmouth County.