NJ - Victims React to Statements by Admitted Molester
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 26, 2004
Mark Serrano, SNAP Board Member, cell: 703-727-4940
Matt Kelly, SNAP-NJ Communications Director, cell: 973-714-8099
Patricia Serrano, Founder, Healing Our Survivors Together (www.healingtogether.org) cell: (201) 715-6510
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIMS REACT TO STATEMENTS BY ADMITTED PRIEST-CHILD MOLESTER
CALL ON COURT TO ALLOW LAWSUITS TO PROCEED
August 26, 2004/Morristown, N.J. – Today attorney Gregory Gianforcaro (908-859-2200) filed a brief in a New Jersey court to answer the Motion To Dismiss by the Diocese of Paterson in a lawsuit by two dozen clergy abuse victims against the diocese. The majority of victims on the case were serially abused by Father James Hanley who turns 68 today, August 26.
In the brief, Father Hanley is quoted from recent statements where he acknowledges the scope of his criminal activity against children in the church. Further, Father Hanley states that Bishop Frank Rodimer, who retired from the diocese last month, instructed Hanley to cover-up his crimes after the first report to the bishop from a victim. Rodimer was fully aware of Hanley’s crimes and other victims when he persuaded the priest to remain silent and began to reassign Hanley within the church. Rodimer was also a “mandated reporter” under the law in New Jersey at the time as well but did not report the crimes to authorities.
Attorney Gianforcaro, at a press conference in Morristown, N.J. today, stated, “New Jersey law allows for victims in these types of crimes to file claims in civil court within two years of realizing the damage done to them previously. The brief that I have filed on behalf of clergy sexual abuse victims from the Diocese of Paterson today provides overwhelming evidence that the perpetrator, Father James Hanley, silenced his victims during the course of the sexual assaults against them in their childhood, and that his superior within the church, Bishop Frank Rodimer, orchestrated a cover-up of Hanley’s crimes after the first report from a victim. Upon the day that this motion is heard, we will respectfully ask the court to allow these cases to proceed based on the legal merits of the case presented in the brief today.”
Reacting to the news of the court filing and the statements by Hanley, one of Hanley’s victims (who is not a plaintiff in the case), Mark Serrano of Leesburg, Virginia said, “In such a unique situation where the perpetrator has admitted his sexual crimes against children, and the cover-up by his Bishop, a stronger case could not be made for these victims to be allowed to proceed in court to see justice served.”
Serrano added, “One Hanley victim was lost to suicide last year. Other victims of Father Hanley suffer today from drug and alcohol addictions, broken relationships and careers, and other effects of the sexual abuse they endured in childhood. Only the cold of heart could suggest that these people should not see justice in a court of law today. While the diocese continues to work hard to prevent the Hanley case, and others, from proceeding in court, lives hang in the balance while victims hope for justice where it has clearly been denied to them before. Arbitrary legal time limits should not prevent justice from being served for these victims. Even an admitted priest-child molester has revealed more about what happened than the church itself who enabled his crimes.”
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP, www.snapnetwork.org) for which Mark Serrano serves as a board member, respectfully calls upon the court to allow these lawsuits to proceed based on the overwhelming merits of the case presented in the brief filed today. The group believes that there is no other case against the church in America where the child-molesting priest admitted the scope of his crimes and the cover-up by his Bishop, as is the case with these lawsuits.
Having sent a letter to Bishop Arthur Serratelli, the newly-installed Bishop of the Diocese of Paterson, on June 2, 2004, requesting an urgent meeting to address the diocesan response since 2002 to victims of clergy abuse, SNAP noted today that they have still not received any response from the Bishop. While SNAP recognizes that the breach of trust for clergy abuse victims occurred under the leadership of Bishop Serratelli’s predecessor, they await specific steps to aid in the healing of victims by Bishop Serratelli, including the direct consultation of clergy abuse victims.