Local/State

NJ church organist accused of abusing boys over 30 years

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A 71-year-old Sicklerville man was arrested Saturday at his home, and is now charged with molesting five boys over the past 30 years, and investigators believe there may be more victims.

Police say Joseph Cuthbert came in contact with his victims through his work as an organist a various churches over the years, most recently at Erial Community Church.

But, Church Elder Scott Cooper tells Action News the victim who initiated the investigation and his family are not members of the church. He says the family came to the church board for counseling and the board advised them to call the police.

Police say the victim claims he was abused by Cuthbert starting last September.

During their investigation, they say four more victims have come forward with allegations of abuse dating back to 1984.

Elder Cooper says the church has questioned the families of children who might have interacted with Cuthbert, and he says none of them reported anything unusual.

"Everybody in church adores him," said Joan Warner. "He teaches organ to the kids."

Before he became the organist at Erial Community Church, police say Cuthbert played at services at the Christ Community Church in Newfield. They suspect there may be more victims out there, and are hoping they'll come forward.

Cuthbert is being held on $250,000 cash bail.

A nephew answered the door at Cuthbert's home on New Brooklyn Road, but declined to speak to Action News.

Neighbors say Cuthbert recently put his home up for sale and was planning to move south. They say he also rode his bike every morning.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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