Winslow church organist charged with sexual assault

“NJ needs civil sol reform to help these survivors of a church organist” – Professor Marci A. Hamilton

Winslow church organist charged with sexual assault

By Angelo Fichera, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: February 20, 2014

A Winslow Township man who was an organist at several South Jersey churches has been arrested on charges he sexually assaulted at least four male juveniles, authorities say.

Joseph Cuthbert, 71, was arrested at his home Sunday after an apparent victim stepped forward earlier in the day. The victim claimed abuse began in September.

An investigation found other victims who claimed the man had assaulted them over the last 30 years, Winslow police said. A police release initially said five total victims were located, but Detective Cary Robinson later said in an interview: “Right now we have four victims. A possible fifth.”

Cuthbert met each of the young men through his service as an organist at area churches, according to police.

A 1996 law lifted the statute of limitations in New Jersey for prosecuting child sex abuse, but it is not retroactive, so restrictions in place prior to that year remain. It was not clear Wednesday if that would bear any influence on the charges.

Robinson said the department would have to discuss such limitations with the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.

Cuthbert most recently worked with Erial Community Church in Gloucester Township.

“We have been made aware of the situation,” Pastor Carlyle Melleby said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved.”

Melleby declined to comment further.

Officials also said Cuthbert had worked with Christ Community Church in Newfield. A call for comment Wednesday was not returned.

Cuthbert also faces numerous charges of criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child.

Officials said Cuthbert did not post $250,000 cash bail and was being held at the Camden County Jail. It was not known whether he had retained an attorney.

Investigators ask victims or anyone with information to contact Robinson at 609-561-3300, Ext. 1147.