Mendham Monument to Sex Abuse Victims Defaced Again

By Russ Crespolini
The Patch
March 8, 2013

For the second time in as many years a memorial at St. Joseph's Church in Mendham Borough that was dedicated to the victims of child sexual abuse was defaced, Mendham Borough Police said.

According to Ptl. Chris Gobbi, an employee of Saint Joseph's Church and School discovered vandalism to a monument on the west side of the church property. The monument consisted of a black granite millstone, two statues of children, and two plaques.

The monument was designed and built as a memorial to the victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and was dedicated in 2004 at St. Joseph's where James T. Hanley, a pastor who has been defrocked, admitted to molesting children decades ago.

The damage from Thursday's incident appeared to be limited to the two statues of a male and female child on either side of the millstone, Gobbi said. The male statue sustained cracks and chipping of the finish to the base, the legs and a ball behind the feet, the female child statue had been broken off at the ankles and sustained major damage where it struck the ground, including the loss of an arm, Gobbi said.

The first incident of vandalism of the statue dates back to November of 2011, when police charged Gordon D. Ellis with using a sledgehammer to destroy the monument.

The monument was rebuilt and rededicated last April.

Mendham Borough resident Patrick Kelly, who said he was one of the men sexually abused as a child at St. Joseph's, said he saw this latest act of vandalism as a minor setback.

"The spirit of what this monument represents cannot be destroyed by acts of vandalism just as what happened at St. Joseph church years ago cannot be forgotten," Kelly said. "This monument, dedicated to those who were sexually abused by priests, transcends the little town of Mendham, New Jersey. It is also a reminder to the world that the protection of our children is the duty of every citizen. We will rebuild the monument again and again, if need be."

Mendham Borough Police Chief Pasquale Libertino said his department was interviewing persons of and that the investigation was ongoing.

The Morris County Prosecutor's Office was advised of the incident.








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