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NJ Priest Pleads Not Guilty To Pointing Musket At Child

LITTLE FERRY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A New Jersey priest accused of pointing an antique rifle at an 8-year-old boy pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday.

Father Kevin Carter is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated assault. The charges stem from a Sept. 13 incident that occurred inside the rectory of the St. Margaret of Cortona Roman Catholic Church in Little Ferry.

Carter, 54, is accused of asking the boy who had just arrived for service with his family to step into one of the rectory's rooms and stand against a wall, according to the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

When the boy did, the priest allegedly pointed the unloaded but fully functioning Civil War-era musket at him, prosecutors said.

County Prosecutor John Molinelli had said Carter, a 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.

Surrounded by supporters, Carter said outside Bergen County Municipal Court on Tuesday that the boy came into the rectory "to have some good-natured fun about a football game," WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported.

Carter said he had been showing off his replica musket to a fellow Civil War buff.

"The father did hold the musket, but the boy was never, ever put against the wall," said Carter's lawyer, Harold Cassidy.

The boy was also never fearful, the lawyer said.

"Afterwards, the boy warmly received father outside, as did his family," Cassidy said.

Cassidy said a parishioner misinterpreted the events and filed a complaint.

"I don't know who she is," one woman said.

"Maybe she is crazy," another added.

Carter's attorney said they have submitted a statement from a witness who disputes what the female parishioner claims she saw.

The priest said he has no ill will toward the witness.

"And I ask my parishioners to treat her lovingly," Carter said.

"I do not want her to be caused any harm," Carter told reporters, including 1010 WINS' Al Jones.

As CBS2's Christine Sloan reported, dozens of parishioners came to support Father Carter, so did law enforcement officers because he is a police chaplain who helped many after the September 11 attacks.

Carter greeted his supporters in a parking lot, but wouldn't take questions from reporters. He offered a statement claiming the incident was a big misunderstanding.

"My concern at this moment is for the young boy and his family, not for myself. I also know that nothing that day put him in fear," he said.

Opinions from Little Ferry residents were strong on both sides, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.

"I don't think it's that funny. I don't think he should point the gun at anybody," one resident said. "He'll probably get kicked out of the church 'cause he's never going to live it down. I think he's done over there."

"We have to worry about worse things," another resident said, adding the situation as been blown out of proportion.

"I think it was something in good humor, and I think he'll be vindicated," one of the priest's supporters said outside court.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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