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  Home :: 2006 December :: Ex-priest rejects offer on Hudson bat charge
Thursday, December 21,2006

Ex-priest rejects offer on Hudson bat charge

 James Hanley, the former Catholic priest who admittedmolesting about a dozen boys in what was New Jersey'smost notorious clergy sex abuse case, has declined aprosecutor's plea offer on charges in an unrelatedMarch incident at a Secaucus motel.

Hanley, 70, appeared Dec. 11 in Hudson County SuperiorCourt for a brief hearing, shackled and wearing a green jailuniform and walking with a cane. He has been jailed sincelate October, when a warrant was issued for his arrest formissing a court date, Assistant Prosecutor Howard Bell said.


Hanley was indicted in June on charges of possessing aweapon for an unlawful purpose and making terroristicthreats, Bell said. He will remain in jail until his nextcourt date, Jan. 22, unless he can post his $50,000 bail,which has a 10 percent cash option.

Authorities say that on March 10 Hanley swung a bat atthree employees at the Extended Stay Motel in Secaucus. Anofficer drew his gun and ordered Hanley to drop the bat, butHanley did not, prosecutors say. Instead, Hanley turnedaround and started to walk away, still holding the bat,prosecutors say.

The officer put his gun back in his holster, kickedHanley's legs out from under him and arrested him,prosecutors say.

The deal discussed in court last week would have involvedprobation and 364 days in jail, Bell said.

Hanley's lawyer, John Conbery, could not be reachedfor comment.

Hanley, who admitted molesting boys between 1968 and 1982,never spent a day in jail for that abuse, largely becausenobody told police until statutes of limitations hadexpired. He was formally removed from the priesthood in2002.

Last year, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson reacheda $5 million settlement with 21 people who said Hanleyabused them. In court papers, the former priest has admittedabusing about a dozen boys - masturbating and showering withthem and engaging in oral sex.

Most of the victims were parishioners at the Church of St.Joseph in Mendham when Hanley was a priest there.

He no longer has formal ties to the Paterson Diocese, savefor a monthly stipend he receives.

Many of Hanley's victims have followed the motel caseclosely, hoping to see their abuser jailed. None were incourt last week, though the parent of one alleged victim,Mark Serrano, was there.

"He's finally in a place where kids can'tbe harmed by him," Mark Serrano said. "Idon't know for how long, though."

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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia