Priest Confronts Men Who Claim He Sexually Abused Them As Boys

Associated Press, carried in
January 30, 2006

PATERSON. N.J. - Several men who claim they were molested as boys by Roman Catholic priests came to a city neighborhood Sunday to warn residents about one of the clerics, who has recently moved into the area. They eventually were confronted by the priest, who said he had abused some children during his career but claimed the protesters had exaggerated his actions.

Many of the men claim they were abused from 1968 to 1982 by James T. Hanley, who served at three northern New Jersey parishes. Hanley was removed from the priesthood in 2002, 17 years after church officials learned of complaints against him.

The men, along with several supporters from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), were distributing fliers that detailed their accusations against Hanley when he drove by and saw them, the Daily Record of Parsippany reported.

Hanley then walked toward the group and came face-to-face with Lou Serrano of Mendham, whose son is among those who say Hanley abused them. Hanley angrily told Lou Serrano "you're a liar," but soon admitted having had sexual contact with Serrano's son, Mark, although Hanley said he never forced himself on the youth.

When Mark Serrano, who was among those distributing the fliers, noted he was only 12 when the attacks occurred, Hanley told the group they had been exaggerating his actions. He also said some of those who claimed they were abused by him were not being honest, the newspaper reported.

Hanley later said that his victims deserve answers about what happened, and that is why he approached them on Sunday. Mark Serrano told the newspaper that the confrontation had been "empowering" because he no longer was the "little kid" controlled by Hanley.

More than two dozen men who said they were abused by Hanley sued the Paterson Roman Catholic Diocese and agreed to a $5 million settlement last year. They claimed that church officials, including former Bishop Frank Rodimer, failed to take action to protect the youths.

Hanley was not sued because he cooperated with the plaintiffs, providing a statement detailing sexual acts he did with about 20 of the boys. The statement also said he admitted to Rodimer in 1984 that he had molested about a dozen boys.

Prosecutors said they could not bring criminal charges against Hanley because the statute of limitations had expired.

Hanley served at St. Joseph's in Mendham, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Pompton Plains and St. Christopher's in Parsippany.


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