2003-04-05 / Community

Survivor Speaks Out With Voice of the Faithful

By Brian Magoolaghan
Survivor Speaks Out With Voice of the Faithful By Brian Magoolaghan

Survivor Speaks Out With Voice of the Faithful
By Brian Magoolaghan


The Reverend James Sullivan seated next to the evenings moderator, Vera Powers.The Reverend James Sullivan seated next to the evenings moderator, Vera Powers.

His appearance doesn't tell his story, but Jim Kelly's fragility and torment is clear when he recalls part of his childhood.

"I put it deep inside my mind. I repressed it," he said.

At a recent meeting of the Rockaway Voice of the Faithful, a local religious group concerned with sexual abuse and the Catholic Church, Kelly, a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) told his story about "a professional pedophile," who "created a club-of young boys."

The priest, Kelly said, used different lures to keep himself surrounded by boys: pornographic magazines, ice cream, beer, cigarettes, and fishing trips.


Guest speaker Jim Kelly, who said he was sexually abused by a priest as a boy.Guest speaker Jim Kelly, who said he was sexually abused by a priest as a boy.

The alleged abuse occurred in the late 70s and early 80s. Kelly, whose family lives in N.J., was in middle school. The other boys were also pre or early teen. The priest, Kelly said, was "very funny," and well liked by parishioners. But as Kelly hung out with the group, he realized two things. First, he said, other boys would disappear, one at a time, for more than an hour. When one of the other boys became curious as to where the missing one was, the response would typically be "he's with father." Describing the boys' understanding and mood at the time, he said, "It was hush."

Kelly also noticed, he said, that he hung out with the group but that he was not a member of "the group" -at least not yet. "I remember being in his bed in my underwear," Kelly recalled. "He (the priest) was breathing heavy." Billy, one of the other boys, became curious as to where Kelly was.

At this point in Kelly's story his repression became clear. As he stood in front of the group at the American Legion, Kelly exuded confusion, pain, and subdued anger. He didn't go into elaborate detail of abuse, and though many at the meeting asked questions and spoke, no one pressured him to.

When Kelly emerged from the bedroom, where he had been "with father," he said Billy asked him what had happened.


Rockaway resident John Hetzel shares his opinion and asks questions.Rockaway resident John Hetzel shares his opinion and asks questions.

"He was afraid I had joined 'the club,'" Kelly said.

90 people have come forward saying they were abused by former priest James T. Hanley, Kelly said. That number, he said, also included four of his brothers.

Hanley, now 65, was recently removed from the priesthood by the Vat

ican, according to a story in the NewYork Times. Hanley served as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Mendham, N.J. from 1973 to 1982.

Kelly is now thirty-six years old. Anne Heslin, a member of Rockaway's Voice of the Faithful, called him "generous and courageous," because "so many will not speak out." She also said she thinks speaking out helps him.

"I'm fighting this fight now," Kelly said.


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