Moral Low Ground


Sunday Re-Dedication for Twice-Destroyed Mendham, NJ Child Clergy Sex Abuse Memorial

clergy sex abuse memorialA New Jersey memorial dedicated to child victims of clergy sex abuse that was destroyed twice in as many years will be re-dedicated on Sunday. reports that the memorial, located outside St. Joseph Church in Mendham, Morris County, was smashed with a sledgehammer in 2011 and vandalized again last month.

The memorial, which is composed of a statue of a young girl and another of a young boy alongside a millstone, was placed outside St. Joseph, where former Rev. James Hanley once sexually abused at least 15 boys. In 2003, the Diocese of Paterson defrocked Hanley and agreed to pay nearly $5 million to 21 of his victims the following year. Hanley, one of dozens of clergy from the Diocese of Paterson to be accused of sexually abusing children, never served any prison time for his crimes.

One of the boys sexually abused by Hanley, James Kelley, killed himself at the age of 37. Kelley’s suicide inspired Bill Crane, another of Hanley’s victims, to lead efforts to place the monument outside St. Joseph.

Local Gordon Ellis was arrested and charged with destroying the memorial in 2011. There are no suspects in the latest vandalism; Morris County Crimestoppers (973-Cop-Call) is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator.

The memorial will not be repaired by Sunday’s re-dedication. But participants will travel from out-of-state to attend. The third dedication of the monument will focus on female victims of clergy sex abuse. Angela Rose of Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment (PAVE), an organization dedicated to “shattering the silence of sexual violence,” will travel from Washington, DC to speak at the event. New York City sex crimes prosecutor Jill Starishevsky, author of “My Body Belongs to Me,” will also speak.

According to, St. Joseph allowed the memorial to be placed outside the church in an effort to heal the deep wounds caused by sex-abusing clergy like Rev. Hanley. Crane said that the church has been an “active and helpful partner” in the effort to restore the memorial.

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