The Rev. John Banko was the first New Jersey priest to be charged criminally in a sex case since the Roman Catholic church became embroiled in a national scandal this year. After less than 2 days of deliberations, the jury convicted Banko of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment. The abuse with the boy, now 20, happened in St. Edwards Roman Catholic Church's community center in Milford. Banko could be sentenced to up to 35 years in prison. He had no reaction as the verdict was read. The victim buried his head in his hands. Banko, 56, of Hamilton Township, denied the charges when he testified Monday. But during cross-examination, Banko acknowledged previous sexual liaisons with both men and women. He also told investigators that his vow of celibacy as a priest made no direct mention of abstaining from sex.
I am all for purging the predators from the priesthood. I am also for purging the destructively stupid. And if a man is both, it just makes it easier.