NJ Priest Indicted on Sexual Abuse Charges

Associated Press/January 14, 2004

Camden, N.J. -- A former Roman Catholic priest has been indicted on charges that he sexually assaulted a New Jersey boy repeatedly in 1995.

No trial date has been set for James F. Hopkins, 60, of Stuart, Fla.

The Camden Diocese settled a civil lawsuit with Hopkins' alleged victim in 1999.

Hopkins is no longer a priest.

His accuser was 10 years old when the alleged assaults took place. The accuser, Jonathan Norton, came forward last year to talk.

Norton talked publicly about the case as allegations of abuse by Roman Catholic priests and cover-ups by church hierarchy made headlines.

The Diocese of Camden has been battered for years by lawsuits alleging sexual abuse, and maintains that there have been no credible allegations of new cases in the past four years. The diocese last year also became one of the first in the nation to start its own support group for victims of abuse by clergy.

Hopkins was arrested in Florida last April 17 and released from Camden County Jail about a month later after posting $75,000 bail.

He was indicted on charges of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child.

If he's convicted on all counts, Hopkins could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

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