A retired priest from Morris County has been charged with criminal sexual contact by local authorities but has not been taken into custody as he currently resides in Texas.
Morris County Acting Prosecutor Fredric Knapp announced today Reverend Phillip Briganti, 67, formerly of Randolph, was being charged with the fourth-degree crime for “acts involving an adult male.”
Briganti, living in El Paso, Texas, officiated a wedding at St. Paul’s Church in Prospect Park on Nov. 9, 2013, Knapp said. Following the wedding reception, Briganti was riding on a bus with the alleged victim en route to a hotel, Knapp said. It was then Briganti allegedly engaged in unwanted sexual contact with the victim.
The victim notified the Diocese of Paterson, which then alerted authorities in Morris, Passai, and Bergen counties, Knapp said.
This isn’t Briganti’s first brush with an investigation. While acting as the reverend for St. Joseph Church in Mendham in 2005, Briganti resigned amid an extortion scandal, according to the Observer-Tribune.
Briganti was the victim in that incident, Mendham police said, when he was allegedly contacted three times via the Internet by someone trying to extort money from him, the report said.
St. Joseph Church in Mendham is home to a monument recognizing the victims of clergy sex abuse after parishioners there came forward publicly as victims in recent years.
An investigation is ongoing and active, Knapp said, and authorities are asking anyone with information regarding the incident contact the Randolph Township Police Department at 973-989-7010, or the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office at 973-285-6200.