Livingston Priest Victims Talk about Abuse

By Scott Egelberg
The Patch
July 16, 2012

The alleged victims of sexual abuse by Rev. John Laferrera discuss their settlement with the Newark Archdiocese in front of the church where the Catholic priest last served.

Just days after reaching a settlement with the Archdiocese of Newark, some of the men who allege that they were sexually abused by the Rev. John Laferrera as youngsters assembled outside St. Philomena Roman Catholic Church on Sunday to talk about the case.

Earlier this week, the Newark Star Ledger reported that the Archdiocese "quietly reached a six-figure settlement with six alleged victims last month" and Laferrera was stripped of his collar and sent into retirement. No mention was made as to whether he will keep his pension or not.

"He is no longer administering," archdiocese spokesman James Goodness said. "He is out of the ministry."

Laferrera stepped down approximately a year ago from his position as monsignor of St. Philomena following escalating complaints. Before that he served 13 years at St. Aloysius in Caldwell. The men who settled with the church say the abuse happened in the late 1970s and early 1980s, while Laferrera was pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Newark.

"I'm just happy that finally they believed us and in a roundabout way, they got rid of (Laferrera)," said Samuel Rivera on Sunday. Rivera claims Laferrera sexually abused him when he was 12.

Rivera and his brother, Daniel, said they decided to step up and report the abuse after seeing Ernie Fabregas, another alleged victim, on a local news channel, discussing what Laferrera did to him. He said he started contacting other altar boys from his youth to ask who else was abused.

"We were all molested by this priest and in life, how can you be a priest and do this to children. It's sickening," said Angel Nieves. Angel, along with his brother Miguel, still have cases pending against Laferrera.

Fabregas first charged that Laferrera abused him in 2009. The board started an inquiry and additional men came forward to say they were also abused by Laferrara.

The men said that the settlement was approximately $325,000 and included funding for counseling for the men.

"I think we got strong armed (with the settlement)," said a man, who claimed to be another victim and wished to remain anonymous. "No amount of money can warrant the forgiveness of what went on to take our innocence away as young boys. It was just horrible."

The men have partnered with Robert Hoatson, who heads Road to Recovery, an advocacy group for victims of clergy sex abuse, to help clear the way for more victims to come forward.

"Since 2009, we have been working with these guys to get some sort of justice," Hoatson told Patch on Sunday. "The Road to Recovery has been the agency that has sort of helped guide them through this and helped with the financial aspects."

Phillipsburg attorney Greg Gianforcaro, who represented the men, says that he has talked to some local officials about how to remove the statute of limitations on child abuse, so that victims can file criminal charges after they grow up.

"Child and sexual abuse is an issue that children just can't deal with," Gianforcaro said. "It takes decades and decades to deal with it. So if you are going to out the pedophiles who are still around today, you need to give the victims from 10-20 years ago a voice."

As for the future, according to Fabregas, the men can "now go on with our lives and do the best we can to get other victims to come forward."


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