CRIME
02/20/2014 12:44 pm ET Updated Feb 20, 2014

Church Organist Joseph Cuthbert Accused Of Sexually Assaulting 5 Boys Over 30 Years

Authorities in New Jersey have charged a longtime church organist with molesting at least five boys during the past 30 years.

Joseph Cuthbert, 71, of Sicklerville, was charged Wednesday with five counts each of aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact and child endangerment. He is being held in the Camden County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

According to officials at the Winslow Township Police Department, authorities began investigating Cuthbert after a boy came forward and said Cuthbert began molesting him in September 2013.

The investigation into that first case, police said, resulted in the identification of four more boys who claim similar abuses by Cuthbert.

Authorities said each victim claims they met Cuthbert at various South Jersey churches, where he was known to play the organ.

It is not known whether Cuthbert has retained an attorney. The Office Of The Camden County Prosecutor had no additional details on the case Thursday.

"We will eventually prosecute it, but we have not received the charges or anything like that," prosecutor's office spokesman Jason Laughlin told The Huffington Post.

Calls to a number listed for his family residence were not returned by HuffPost Thursday morning.

Neighbors told Philadelphia's KYW-TV they are shocked by Cuthbert's arrest.

"I thought it was a joke. I really did," said neighbor Joan Warner. "I still can't believe it really."

WPVI News reported Cuthbert most recently volunteered at Erial Community Church. Elder Scott Cooper told the news station that the victim who initiated the investigation is not a member of the church. However, he did say the victim’s family had recently come to the church board for counseling, at which time they were advised to contact police.

Church officials, Cooper said, have questioned families of children in the church and none have reported any unusual contact with Cuthbert.

Authorities said they suspect there may be additional victims out there, and are asking anyone with information to call them at (609) 561-3300 ext. #1147.

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