21 Sue Paterson Diocese, Alleging Sex Abuse

By Wayne Parry
January 12, 2004

NEWARK, N.J. -- Twenty-one men sued the Diocese of Paterson and Bishop Frank Rodimer on Monday, claiming they were sexually abused by clergy members.

Most of the plaintiffs say they were abused as children by the Rev. James T. Hanley, a retired priest who has been the focus of numerous abuse complaints since the sex abuse scandal erupted in the Roman Catholic Church in 2002.

"Today is a day to recall the suffering that happens to children and continues as they grow into adulthood," said Mark Serrano, a leader of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests. He claims Hanley molested him while he was a child.

Hanley, who has declined to discuss the allegations, asked church officials to remove him from the priesthood in June 2002 after Rodimer presented him with the new church policy on sexual abuse adopted by U.S. bishops.

Marianna Thompson, a spokeswoman for the diocese, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday morning.

The lawsuit was filed in state Superior Court in Morristown.

Gregory Gianforcaro, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said it seeks monetary damages from the diocese and the bishop, but not from four parishes also named as defendants: St. Joseph's in Mendham, St. Christopher's in Parsippany, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Pompton Plains and Our Lady of Holy Rosary in Dover.

A second priest named in the lawsuit, the Rev. Thomas Rainforth, who served at the same parish as Hanley, was investigated by the diocese but cleared of any wrongdoing in November 2002.


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