Fr. James Hanley – Diocese of Paterson

Father James Hanley

Diocese of Paterson

Fr. James Hanley Horowitz LawFr. James Hanley Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1962

Removed: 1986

Laicized: 2003

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Andrew (Clifton, NJ)
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel (Pompton Plains, NJ)
  • St. Christopher (Parsippany, NJ)
  • St. Joseph (Mendham, NJ)
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary (Wayne, NJ)
  • In service, Diocese of Albany (Albany, NY)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father James T. Hanley:

According to media reports, in 1985, an adult male informed the Diocese of Paterson that he was sexually abused by Fr. James T. Hanley, a close friend of the family. According to the victim, the molestation included groping, sodomy, oral sex, and forced masturbation. At the time of the alleged abuse, Hanley served as Pastor at the Church of St. Joseph’s. In 1986, Hanley was removed from the ministry by Bp. Rodimer, but law enforcement authorities were not notified.

In 1987, the victim sued the Diocese of Paterson and the case was later settled. During the course of the investigation, Hanley admitted abusing the victim from 1974-81 starting at age 9, while the victim was an altar boy.

According to news reports, in 2003, James Hanley was laicized. In October 2003, as part of his laicization petition, Hanley certified in a sworn statement that he abused 12 boys while serving as a priest in several Morris County communities from 1968-82. He also stated that he had admitted the abuse to Bishop Rodimer in September 1985. Hanley was never convicted for those crimes because the statute of limitations had expired by the time police and prosecutors were informed. 

In 2005, while not admitting to any wrongdoing, the Diocese of Paterson paid additional civil settlements to victims of James Hanley. 

In 2006, Hanley was a patient in the voluntary psychiatric unit of St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic, NJ, according to a reporter following a pattern of escalating behavior with the former priest, who was facing charges of aggravated assault against three people at the time. According to reportsHanley was arrested at a Secaucus hotel after getting into an argument with a clerk, NJ police said. Reports said he became angry after the clerk rebuffed his sexual advances, and Hanley slammed the desk with an aluminum bat he was using as a cane. He served one year in jail on a weapons charge. Just before the hotel incident, he had confronted family members of three of his victims – men he admitted to abusing – on the street, calling them all liars.  

In December 2019, two new accusers filed lawsuits under New Jersey’s new Victim’s Rights Bill alleging that Hanley sexually abused them as minors. According to court papers, one man claimed he was abused by Hanley and two other priests — a former assistant to Hanley at a Mendham church decades ago and a former Catholic school administrator who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two boys more than 25 years ago. He claimed the abuse started in 1974 when he was between 11 and 13 years old, and attended St. Joseph’s parish.

Another man said Hanley abused him when he was a boy in the late 1960s, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Pequannock.

Hanley’s name first appeared publicly on the Diocese of Paterson’s list of accused priests published in February 2019.

Hanley’s current whereabouts are unknown, but he still reportedly draws a church pension.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Paterson in New Jersey. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in New Jersey, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Paterson now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.