LA Priest in Sex Abuse Charge

By Sean O' Driscoll
Irish Voice
November 9, 2005

A Sligo parish priest has “stepped aside” from his duties as a result of a child sexual abuse case in the U.S.

The resignation of Father Brian Bernard Hanley follows an internal church examination as a result of the recent Ferns report on child sexual abuse in Ireland.

Father Hanley, who has not been named in Irish newspapers, is to remain away from his ministry until the church finishes an investigation into allegations made in Los Angeles. A mother has accused him of sexually abusing her son and daughter in 1965.

One Sligo person familiar with the case said Father Hanley was known as an “old school fire and brimstone priest” who strongly disapproved of unmarried couples living together. He has strongly rejected the allegations made in Los Angeles.

The Bishop of Elphin in Ireland, Dr. Christopher Jones, stressed that no investigation had yet been launched and that guilt or innocence had yet to be determined.

Priest read a brief statement from Bishop Jones at Masses in two parishes where Father Hanley served. The bishop, who is a distant relation of Hanley, said that the church’s apology following the Ferns report may seem weak but needed to be said.

Father Hanley is one of 17 Irish priests facing allegations of child abuse in the Los Angeles diocese, nine of whom are still alive.

Although no details of the U.S. case have emerged against Hanley in the Irish newspapers, the Irish Voice has learned that a mother filed a lawsuit in 2002 that her children were abused by Father Hanley in the 1960s.

He worked as an assistant pastor at La Purisima Conception Parish from 1963 until he left the archdiocese and returned to Ireland in October 1965.

The details are contained in Los Angeles diocese records released to the public. They show that Father Hanley was ordained in the Diocese of Elphin, which includes Sligo, in 1958.

He served an assistant pastor in Compton in Los Angeles before being moved to three other parishes in three years before returning to Ireland.

In August, 2002, a woman alleged that her daughter and son were abuse by Father Hanley in 1965, the year he returned to Ireland.


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