LITTLE FERRY, N.J. (AP) — A lawyer for a New Jersey priest accused of pointing a functioning but unloaded musket at an 8-year-old boy inside the church's rectory said his client will plead not guilty.
Harold Cassidy told The Record (http://bit.ly/1FSF7yH) that the Rev. Kevin Carter is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday on charges of child endangerment and aggravated assault by pointing a firearm.
Bergen County prosecutors charged Carter on Friday. Both charges stem from a Sept. 13 incident at St. Margaret of Cortona Roman Catholic Church in Little Ferry.
Authorities have said the incident apparently was spurred by a football rivalry, although Carter maintains that it was a joke. A parishioner reported the incident to the Archdiocese of Newark late last month, and officials there soon notified the prosecutor's office.
Carter, an avid New York Giants fan, and the boy, who roots for the Dallas Cowboys, were talking about football shortly before the incident occurred. The two NFL teams were scheduled to play that night.
County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Carter allegedly asked the boy, who wore a Cowboys jersey to the service, to step into one of the rectory's rooms and stand against a wall. When the boy did, the priest allegedly pointed the unloaded but functioning musket at him.
At Masses on Sunday, parishioners voiced support for Carter and applauded when he began the services by reading a statement maintaining his innocence, the newspaper reported.
Carter told his congregation that the charges reflect misinterpreted "jesting" between him and the boy, and a man who claimed to witness the incident told the newspaper that everyone involved — including the boy — were laughing.
Molinelli has said he doesn't consider pointing a gun at someone a joke, especially not at little kids.
Carter remains free on $15,000 cash bail.
Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com