Monument for Sex Abuse Victims Dedicated at Mendham Church

Newsday [Mendham NJ]
April 26, 2004

MENDHAM, N.J. -- A Roman Catholic church where several men say they were molested by the same priest many years ago now houses a monument to child sex abuse victims.

About 200 parishioners and others gathered Sunday at St. Joseph's Church to see the 400-pound monument, which was carved out of black basalt stone and shaped like a millstone. It came about last year when friends and family gathered for the funeral of James Kelly, 37, of Morristown.

Kelly, who committed suicide in October by stepping in front of a train, was one of more than 20 people who said they were sexually abused by James T. Hanley, who served at the Mendham church more than 20 years ago. Church officials have said Hanley admitted abusing children there and he eventually was defrocked, but he was never criminally charged because the statute of limitations had expired in the cases.

Kelly's brother, Tom, 36, was among those who spoke at the ceremony. The Morristown man _ who for the first time publicly acknowledged that he also was one of Hanley's victims _ said it was uncomfortable to be back at the church, but decided he had to be there for his late brother.

"(Seeing the monument) was like turning a new page," Kelly told the Daily Record of Parsippany after the ceremony.

Bill Crane, a former classmate of James Kelly who now lives in Clackamas, Ore., commissioned the monument. It was funded by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests support group and erected just outside the Morris County church, which is part of the Diocese of Paterson.

Crane said he chose a millstone design because a Bible passage says it would be better for a person to have a millstone placed around their neck and be cast into the sea than to harm a child. The passage was included in the monument.

Msgr. Kenneth E. Lasch, the pastor at St. Joseph's and an outspoken advocate for sexual abuse victims, has said he allowed the monument to be erected at the church because it would help the victims heal.


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