NEWARK, N.J. — A man accused of punching a New Jersey bishop in the face during Saturday Mass pleaded not guilty Monday to assault, reports CBS New York.
In the attack seen on video, police say Charles Miller, 48, approached Bishop Manuel Cruz at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart during a special gathering in honor of baseball hall of famer Roberto Clemente. As an officer rushed to catch Miller, Miller allegedly leaned forward and swung at Cruz, hitting Cruz in the mouth and knocking him off his feet.
Police say Miller was quickly apprehended. Cruz is now recovering after receiving 30 stitches in his mouth.
“I am in pain, I’m a little frightened inside,” Cruz said in an interview with CBS New York. “I’m only a human being, but otherwise I am OK.”
Cruz said he has prayed for Miller.
“This man who came to the altar is my brother and I’ve been praying for him,” he said. “I pray that this be a moment of grace for all of us and that we come to know that we are loved and that we don’t have to be afraid.”
Investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the attack.
During Miller’s brief court appearance Monday, he identified himself as “Rev. Charles Miller,” and offered no explanation for his alleged actions. He was ordered held without bail.