Pre-mass incident was sparked by the father's football fandom

By Chris Harris
October 05, 2015 06:05 PM
Courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor's Office

A Catholic priest in New Jersey allegedly aimed an antique musket at an 8-year-old parishioner last month because the little boy was a Dallas Cowboys fan and the priest rooted for the New York Giants.

A press release from prosecutors in Bergen County, New Jersey, contends the incident occurred before mass on September 13, when the Rev. Kevin Carter – the 54-year-old pastor at St. Margaret of Cortona Catholic Church in Little Ferry – allegedly invited the alleged victim into the church’s rectory.

Carter allegedly singled the boy out for being a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, officials said. The two NFL teams are longtime division rivals.

According to prosecutors, the priest had the child stand against a wall and then retrieved his functioning Civil War-era rifle. Carter pointed the gun – which wasn’t loaded at the time – at the 8-year-old “with an indication that he would shoot him,” prosecutors said.

Carter is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated assault. He posted $15,000 bail for his release, and has been ordered to turn in all of his firearms.

A statement obtained by PEOPLE on behalf of Carter by his attorney, Harold Cassidy, downplayed the seriousness of the incident and expressed Carter’s shock over the allegations.

“There were a number of people present on the day of good-natured jesting, between me, a Giants fan as is well known, and a Cowboy fan,” says the statement, obtained by PEOPLE. “Unfortunately, it seems, that one person misinterpreted the good-natured exchange.

Cassidy, the attorney, tells PEOPLE that the charges against the priest are “without merit.” Cassidy says Carter was engaging in “good natured ribbing” with the child, and notes that nobody in the boy s family lodged a complaint with police over the clergyman’s behavior.

“I am confident he will be exonerated,” adding Carter is worried about the impact the media coverage will have on the child at the center of the charges against him.

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