Millstone clergy sex abuse memorial rededicated in Mendham,NJ.

by Sol Reform 1 Replies latest social current

  • Sol Reform
    Sol Reform

    After being hit by vandals twice.

    A new memorial was unveiled at St. Joseph Church in Mendham to honor the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

    Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012 9:12 am | Updated: 6:35 am, Thu May 3, 2012.
    By PHIL GARBER, Managing Editor | 0 comments
    MENDHAM - Bill Crane recalled how he felt when he got the phone call at his Oregon home last November that someone had shattered the memorial to clergy sexual abuse survivors at St. Joseph Church.
    "It was exactly how I felt," said Crane, 46, who lived in Mendham when as a child, he was sexually assaulted by former parish priest, James Hanley. "Shattered."
    The 400-pound black basalt monument was replaced at its original spot next to the West Main Street church at a public ceremony on Saturday.
    Church bells rang while a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" to an audience of about 70 people. They included Crane and survivors and family members of survivors of Hanley who, during his tenure as pastor ofSt. Joseph's from 1972 to 1982, sexually abused more than a dozen boys in the church rectory
    Monsignor Kenneth Lasch, a retiredSt. Joseph Church priest who has championed the rights of sexual abuse victims was there. So was Monsignor Joseph T. Anginoli, the current pastor who supervised the restoration with Crane.
    Also in the audience was Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, a leading advocate for victims of child sexual abuse.
    The memorial is comprised of a foot-thick millstone flanked by two children. The millstone is in reference to Jesus who said in Matthew 18; 5-6 "And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
    The inscription beneath the millstone reads: "This millstone is dedicated to the victims of sexual abuse at St. Joseph's and everywhere as a tribute to their survival, a mark of our deep respect and as a symbol of our commitment to their healing.
    "Jesus said: Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you. Matthew 11:20."
    Gordon Ellis, 37, of Mendham, has been charged with taking a sledgehammer to the memorial on Friday, Nov. 18, and is awaiting action by a Morris Count grand jury.
    It was Crane 's idea to erect the nation's first memorial in 2004 to clergy sexual abuse victims and in particular to the memory of a friend, James Kelly, who had committed suicide in 2003, apparently tormented by his own experiences as a child victim of Hanley's. Crane left Mendham in 1984 when he joined the Navy but he has remained heavily involved in the effort to stop clergy sexual abuse and support victims.
    He arrived in Mendham last week to help prepare the site and to arrange the memorial. He said that he sees the situation in a positive way in that it quickly brought about a wave of support for the abuse victims.
    "This memorial sends a message of protection and how precious the children are," Crane said. "It's all the high road, it's love, understanding and support. What has taken place is a beautiful thing."
    Crane also said he had no anger for Ellis, only compassion.
    "Nothing ill-willed ever crossed my mind," Crane said. "I thought there must be something really troubling him (Ellis)."
    Crane was just one of the victims of Hanley, who was defrocked in 2003 but never prosecuted for his crimes because the statute of limitations had lapsed.
    When he got the call about the destruction, Crane and his wife, Valerie Jane, were on the Oregon coast, celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary. The couple has a daughter, Jessica and a son, Sean.
    Crane said his first thought was that the destruction was somehow related to the revelations of sexual abuse by a football coach at Penn State University and the subsequent cover-up. However, it remains unclear why Ellis apparently targeted the memorial.
    The attack and subsequent effort to replace the memorial reminded Crane of the misplaced feelings of guilt by victims.
    "It's an ugly, shameful topic but the only people who should feel ashamed are those who perpetrate the abuse on children," Crane said.
    Lasch said on Friday that victims should be remembered and be heard.
    "People have to hear their story and support them in the healing process," Lasch said. "Recovery from abuse is a life sentence and a long journey. The monument is a symbol for the hurt they have experienced and the hope they have to progress to healing."
    Lasch's work as an advocate and supporter has led to his own depression about the years he was bullied as a youth.
    "The internal process of restoring self-esteem is a long, long process," Lasch said. "I understand how difficult it is to deal with trauma."
    Lasch visited the memorial site on Friday and said it quickly brought back the painful emotions he felt while counseling victims.
    A week after the destruction of the memorial, Crane received a call from Gregory Gianforcaro, a lawyer from Phillipsburg who has handled numerous civil cases filed by victims of clergy sexual abuse. The lawyer said the bishop of the Paterson diocese had asked that Crane head up the effort to replace the memorial.
    Crane soon contacted Jason Jones, an Oregon sculptor, who agreed to recast the monument. The funds came from donations and from the diocese. The 400-pound artifact arrived by truck on Wednesday from Oregon. An unexpected snow storm in western Pennsylvania almost delayed the delivery until Friday.
    Crane and a friend, Robert Freeman of Chester Township, owner of Green Pride Landscaping, worked since Wednesday to prepare the landscaping around the memorial.
    Crane has tried to come to grips with his past and said he probably could not have done it without the support of his wife and the love of his family.
    "To be brought out of depression, out of the fog, to be with family and for that special joy, I am so thankful," Crane said.
    He said his focus still remains on the many victims who still live in the shadows of self-loathing.
    "The most important thing is the faceless survivor out there," Crane said. "It still remains so brutally tough to come forward."
    At Saturday's ceremony, Crane gave out 25 miniature mill stones that he made out of the same Columbia River black basalt that were left over from the new memorial. Each is on a stand with a plaque and the quotations from Matthew.
    Among those at the dedication of the new memorial was Patricia Serrano, whose son, Mark, helped trigger national outrage over his revelations that he was sexually abused by Hanley. Mark Serrano could not attend the ceremony.
    Mrs. Serrano founded Helping Ours Sons to Heal (HOST), the first survivor support group at St. Joseph's.
    "These men who were 9-year-old boys when they were abused still live with the pain," Serrano said.
    She quoted her son's comments at the time of the dedication of the original memorial.
    "This was once a hunting place for young boys," Mark Serrano had said. "It became a healing place and now it's a hallowed place with the memorial."

    Advocates Rededicate Sexual Abuse Victims' Memorial Twice Hit By Vandals
    Monument Was Hit With Sledgehammer In 2011, Vandalized Again Last Month
    April 28, 2013 5:28 PM

    Share on email
    View Comments

    A crowd gathered Sunday to rededicate a memorial to victims of sexual abuse at a New Jersey church. (Credit: Jim Smith/WCBS 880)
    Filed under
    Heard On 1010 WINS, WCBS, WFAN, Local, News, NJ News, Watch + Listen
    Related tags
    Jim Kelly, jim smith, Memorial, Mendham, Morris County, New Jersey, Patrick Kelly, Sexual Abuse Victims, Sexual Abuse Victims' Memorial, St. Jospeh Church, Vandals

    MENDHAM, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) - Advocates for victims of child sexual abuse rededicated a monument in Morris County, N.J., Sunday that has twice been the target of vandalism.

    The rededication ceremony for the monument outside St. Joseph Church in Mendham took place on Sunday afternoon.

    Part of the millstone monument near St. Joseph Church in Mendham was destroyed last month for the second time in less than two years.

    Advocates Rededicate Sexual Abuse Victims' Memorial Twice Hit By Vandals
    WCBS 880's Jim Smith Reports

    As WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported, the destroyed statue representing girl victims remained missing, and the boy figure remained heavily damaged, as of Sunday. But despite the second occurrence of vandalism, victims and families rededicated their efforts to crack down on child sex abuse.

    "It takes all of us as a community to stand up," said Mark Crawford, of the New Jersey Chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

    Crawford said the damaged memorial itself is symbolic.

    "Not unlike victims of sexual abuse we're often re-victimized," he said.

    A fundraising effort has gotten under way to repair and rebuild the sculptures. Monsignor Joseph Anginoli said the church has beefed up security.

    "We've put several cameras in place, and we've got lighting," he said.

    Patrick Kelly is one of the child sexual abuse victims of the former priest at St. Joseph's Church in Mendham. He said last month that the vandalism was not completely unexpected.

    "As with the first time, I wasn't surprised," he said.

    After all, Kelly said, with a memorial to the victims at St. Joseph Church, some backlash is expected.

    "But to have it destroyed again, it's just a shame, it really is," he said, "but we'll repair it, we'll fix it, we'll put it back the way it was."

    In 2003, Patrick Kelly's brother, Jim, committed suicide by getting hit by an oncoming train in Morristown, New Jersey.

    At the funeral, an idea was born for a memorial for those sexually abused by priests.

    The first black stone monument stood on the grounds of the church until November 2011, when Gordon Ellis, then 37, allegedly smashed it to bits with a sledgehammer.

    The monument was replaced last year. But last month, it was vandalized again.

    Police are seeking help in identifying whoever was responsible for last month's vandalism.

  • Sol Reform
    Sol Reform

    A 39-year-old mentally ill man gets probation for trashing monument to sex abuse victims at St. Joseph Church in Mendham, NJ

    Despite ,'the Vatican getting it', survivor's support group still meets at Grace Lutheran Church of Mendham. See - Comments by Mark Crawford · Top Commenter · NJ State Director at Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

    "To be clear, the support group was told there was no longer room for us to meet, shortly after the current pastor arrived at St Joe's, seven years ago. So several other Christian Church communities offered us space to hold our support group meetings for which we are very grateful.

    I would again like to thank the Grace Lutheran Church of Mendham for granting SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests the space to meet and help heal the wounded betrayed by clergy who abused members of this this community and many others throughout this state.

    Additionally we thank Fr. Ken Lasch the former pastor of St. Joe's for allowing the memorial to be built and Mrs. Pat Serrano for starting and coordinating (along with several other clergy abuse survivors who so generously volunteered countless hours of their time) our support group meetings for these many years.

    People travel from all parts of New Jersey to join us for these meetings and we again invite anyone who was sexually abused to join us on the first Tuesday of the month at 7PM at the Grace Lutheran Church 65 East Main St. in Mendham.

    Please go to for more information on support. If you have been a victim of sexual abuse please seek help, heal and move forward.

    Further and most what was done to you to the police, no matter how long ago you were victimized. That predator is more than likely hurting others."

    Mark Crawford
    Director NJ SNAP

    Morristown man gets probation for trashing monument to sex abuse victims Feb. 7, 2014 | 2 Comments The millstone memorial to clergy sex abuse victims was destroyed by an ex-Mendham man. / Daily Record file photo Written by Peggy Wright @peggywrightDR Filed Under News Jersey

    Mayhem Superior Court

    Apologizing and saying he had “no excuse” for his crime, a 39-year-old mentally ill man was sentenced Friday to probation and continued psychiatric treatment and ordered to pay $7,500 restitution for sledgehammering a monument in Mendham dedicated to victims of sexual abuse by priests

    . Recognizing that former Mendham resident Gordon Ellis, who now lives in Morristown, has a documented history of mental illness, Assistant Morris County Prosecutor Anthony Scibetta last month had extended a plea offer of probation, restitution and continued treatment to the defendant.

    Ellis accepted the deal and the Prosecutor’s Office downgraded an original third-degree charge of criminal mischief to a disorderly persons offense of criminal mischief.

    State Superior Court Judge Mary Gibbons Whipple, sitting in Morristown, on Friday sentenced Ellis to two years’ probation, continued treatment and $7,500 restitution to cover the damage Ellis caused on Nov. 18, 2011, when he used a sledgehammer to destroy a 400-pound millstone memorial erected outside St. Joseph Church in Mendham. “I would like to personally apologize to St. Joseph’s and the support group they offer.

    They do a good thing and I put a black mark against that. I’m sorry and I have no excuse for it,” Ellis told the judge. A support group had met at the church but moved seven years ago to the Grace Lutheran Church on East Main Street in Mendham. The memorial, originally erected in 2004, was rebuilt and rededicated but in March 2013 the replacement memorial that depicted two children was vandalized again.

    The perpetrator has not been caught. Ellis did not specifically give a reason why he targeted the monument, which is dedicated to all victims of sexual abuse by priests, including more than a dozen who were admittedly molested by St. Joseph’s former pastor, now-defrocked James Hanley.

    The judge, defense lawyer Neill Hamilton and Scibetta all said they believe that Ellis will do well under probationary supervision. Friends Fred Marigliano of Green Brook and Kevin Waldrip of Old Bridge attended the sentencing and later said they were molested themselves decades ago by priests and belong to the support group Road to Recovery. They said they were disappointed that Ellis did not express his reasons for the destruction.

    “I’m very disappointed that he didn’t tell us why and he has to know why,” Marigliano said, adding that if Ellis was himself abused they would like to help him. “It took me over 40 years to speak out and now I’m never going to stop. It’s all about protecting the kids and justice,” Marigliano said.

    He wore around his neck a photograph of James Kelly, who was molested by Hanley and later committed suicide.

Share this