It wasn’t clear whether the death of James T. Hanley, who was one of the first priests to be defrocked in 2003 for sexually abusing children, was related to the coroniavirus outbreak, NJ.com reported.
Hanley was at the center of the 2002 Roman Catholic Church scandal in New Jersey in relation to an alleged cover-up of sex abuse by some bishops.
“Now remember, Mark,” the priest allegedly told Mark Serrano, who was 9 years old at the time he was allegedly abused in the 1970s, according to Rolling Stone. “This is our secret. This is something special that you and I share. Best not to share it with Mom and Dad.”
Hanley served as pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Mendham for 10 years. He admitted in court documents to abusing at least a dozen children, many of them at the parish, as well as in Pompton Plains over a period of 14 years, NJ.com reported.
Bill Crane, another former student from St. Joseph’s, said his encounters with Hanley “began as close hugging,” according to the 2002 Rolling Stone article.
“He told me how much he loved me and put himself all over me, where you didn’t have a chance to get away. He started tickling me, and it slowly turned into more,” Crane said.
In 2004, the Diocese of Paterson settled lawsuits with 21 of Hanley’s accusers for nearly $5 million.
Paterson Diocese attorney Kenneth Mullaney said the diocese was informed of Hanley’s death last week, according to NJ.com.
At least two new accusers came forward last December to file sex abuse charges against the former priest after a state law took effect giving people more time to file civil complaints alleging sex abuse. Previously, those alleging abuse had two years to file charges from the time they realized they had been harmed.
One of the new accusers said abuse from the priest took place in the late 1960s, NorthJersey.com reported.
In 2006, assault charges were filed against Hanley who admitted using an aluminum bat to intimidate three employees at an Extended Stay America hotel.
Hanley also pleaded guilty in 2008 to a bail jumping charge stemming from a missed December 2007 court date in the case, according to NJ.com.
Hanley had been receiving a stipend from the church, Mullaney said.