Perv Priest Stays in Jail
Judge Rejects Request to Enter Rehab on Bat-Attack Case

By Ali Winston
Jersey Journal [New Jersey]
February 23, 2007

Victims of child molester and defrocked priest James Hanley never got the satisfaction of seeing him punished for sexually abusing 12 boys from 1968 to 1982.

But yesterday they did receive a measure of justice, as the former Roman Catholic priest - being held in the Hudson County jail in Kearny - was brought before a Superior Court judge handcuffed and in a prison jumpsuit.

"It's good to see him in cuffs at last," said Margee Cotton of Mendham, whose two sons were among Hanley's victims during Hanley's tenure at a Mendham church.

Hanley, charged with threatening employees of a Secaucus hotel with a bat in March, had his application to enter a pretrial intervention program - and get out of jail - rejected yesterday by Judge Sheila Venable in Jersey City.

The pretrial intervention program is most commonly offered to first-time offenders and would allow Hanley to leave jail and enter a rehabilitation program.

Several members of Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which aids victims of predatory priests, were in attendance. They made headlines last January when they confronted Hanley while passing out flyers in his Paterson neighborhood.

Louis and Patricia Serrano, whose son Mark was sexually abused by Hanley, have followed this case closely. Louis Serrano, a retired New York City police officer, was once good friends with Hanley and said he helped him battle a drinking problem.

"He was a good friend of mine," Serrano said. "I was a Eucharistic minister at our church - while I was on the altar with him, he was raping my son."

Looking gaunt and wearing a tan Hudson County Corrections uniform, the handcuffed Hanley shuffled into the courtroom yesterday with the assistance of a cane. He held his hands together in front of him throughout the hearing, as if he were praying.

SNAP member Kevin Waldrip, a victim of a predatory priest, urged that Hanley be kept behind bars. "If he isn't closely watched, he'll abuse again. It's not a curable condition," he said.

As part of a $5 million settlement in 2005 between the Diocese of Paterson and 27 men claiming sexual abuse by priests, the 70-year-old former priest admitted sexually abusing at least 12 boys. Hanley was never convicted for those crimes because the statute of limitations had expired.

Hanley was arrested March 10 at the Extended Stay America hotel after getting into an argument with a clerk, Osei Karikari, Secaucus police said. Reports said Karikari told police Hanley became angry after Karikari rebuffed his sexual advances, and Hanley slammed the desk with an aluminum bat he was using as a cane.

He also swung the bat at three hotel employees, reports said. To arrest an uncooperative Hanley, a Secaucus policeman had to kick his legs out from under him and cuff him on the ground, reports said.

Hanley's lawyer, John Conbery, told the judge Hanley would appeal the PTI decision. A hearing is scheduled for April 12.

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