Paterson Diocese Settles Sexual Abuse Allegation

By Jeff Diamant
Star-Ledger [Paterson NJ]
July 12, 2005

A New Mexico man will receive $50,000 and four years of counseling from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson as settlement over allegations he was sexually abused by two priests when he was a child, the man said yesterday.

Steve Rabi, 57, of Albuquerque, claimed in a lawsuit filed a year ago that the priests, the Rev. Joseph W. Molloy and the Rev. Francis X. Dennehy, both of whom are now deceased, abused him over the course of three years during the late 1950s and early 1960s at St. Nicholas Church in Passaic.

Rabi's lawyer, Greg Gianforcaro, confirmed the settlement, which was awarded last month. A diocesan spokeswoman was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Rabi, who formerly lived in Passaic, came forward with the allegations in 2002, reporting them to the diocese about two months after the clergy sex abuse scandal gained attention nationally that year.

Under the settlement, Rabi will meet with Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli, who has led the diocese for one year. The bishop at the time of the alleged abuse was James A. McNulty, who is deceased.

Rabi, who now coordinates the New Mexico chapter of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, claimed Molloy sexually abused him repeatedly for about a year when he was 10, and that Dennehy abused him during the year or so afterward.

Dennehy died in 1995. Molloy died in 2000.

Rabi, an altar boy at the church who attended the parish elementary school, said he told no one about the abuse until 2002.

"Now that this thing is settled, if other people abused by them hear about this, they'll see that if they really want counseling or help and need to get it off their chests, they can do that," Rabi said yesterday.

The Paterson diocese, which covers 377,000 Catholics in Sussex, Morris and Passaic counties, has spent $7.85 million on settlements, legal fees and counseling in sex abuse cases since 1950. That figure includes a $5 million earlier this year to about two-dozen victims of the former Rev. James Hanley in the state's most notorious case of clergy sex abuse.