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Livingston Priest's Victims Talk About Abuse

The alleged victims of sexual abuse by Rev. John Laferrera discuss their settlement with the Newark Archdiocese in front of the church where the Catholic priest last served.

Just days after reaching a settlement with the Archdiocese of Newark, some of the men as youngsters assembled outside on Sunday to talk about the case.

Earlier this week, the Newark Star Ledger reported that the Archdiocese “quietly reached a six-figure settlement with six alleged victims last month” and Laferrera was stripped of his collar and sent into retirement.  No mention was made as to whether he will keep his pension or not.

"He is no longer administering," archdiocese spokesman James Goodness said. "He is out of the ministry."

Laferrera from his position as monsignor of St. Philomena following escalating complaints.  Before that he served 13 years at in Caldwell.  The men who settled with the church say the abuse happened in the late 1970s and early 1980s, while Laferrera was pastor at in Newark.

 “I’m just happy that finally they believed us and in a roundabout way, they got rid of (Laferrera),” said Samuel Rivera on Sunday. Rivera claims Laferrera sexually abused him when he was 12.

Rivera and his brother, Daniel, said they decided to step up and report the abuse after seeing Ernie Fabregas, another alleged victim, on a local news channel, discussing what Laferrera did to him.  He said he started contacting other altar boys from his youth to ask who else was abused.

“We were all molested by this priest and in life, how can you be a priest and do this to children.  It’s sickening,” said Angel Nieves.  Angel, along with his brother Miguel, still have cases pending against Laferrera.

Fabregas first charged that Laferrera abused him in 2009. The board started an inquiry and additional men came forward to say they were also abused by Laferrara.

The men said that the settlement was approximately $325,000 and included funding for counseling for the men.

“I think we got strong armed (with the settlement),” said a man, who claimed to be another victim and wished to remain anonymous.  “No amount of money can warrant the forgiveness of what went on to take our innocence away as young boys.  It was just horrible.”

The men have partnered with Robert Hoatson, who heads Road to Recovery, an advocacy group for victims of clergy sex abuse, to help clear the way for more victims to come forward. 

“Since 2009, we have been working with these guys to get some sort of justice,” Hoatson told Patch on Sunday.  “The Road to Recovery has been the agency that has sort of helped guide them through this and helped with the financial aspects.”

Phillipsburg attorney Greg Gianforcaro, who represented the men, says that he has talked to some local officials about how to remove the statute of limitations on child abuse, so that victims can file criminal charges after they grow up.

“Child and sexual abuse is an issue that children just can’t deal with,” Gianforcaro said.  “It takes decades and decades to deal with it.  So if you are going to out the pedophiles who are still around today, you need to give the victims from 10-20 years ago a voice.”

As for the future, according to Fabregas, the men can “now go on with our lives and do the best we can to get other victims to come forward.”

Carolyne Curley July 20, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Jim Goodness continues: "2. Fr. Hoatson established a counseling and advocacy organization – Rescue and Recovery International – located within the geographic area of the Diocese of Brooklyn, without seeking the consent of the Archbishop or the Bishop of Brooklyn. Neither bishop ever gave such permission. Under Canon Law, diocesan priests cannot undertake a ministry or establish a business without receiving permission from their bishops. Nor is it permitted to establish a ministry in another diocese without the permission of that bishop. 3. The precept also calls for Fr. Hoatson to adhere to his assigned duties as chaplain of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, an assignment that he accepted in 2004 but which he apparently deems is a “no show” job. The managers of Catholic Charities have reported that he does not regularly appear and perform the duties he has been assigned. We know this for a fact because, on his own Rescue and Recovery website, Fr. Hoatson claims that he is regularly in Boston working with victims of abuse, and that he travels extensively to promote his work as a victims’ advocate. Unless he has mastered bi-location, Father cannot be in two places at once. He apparently has chosen to be someplace other than the assignment he accepted.
Carolyne Curley July 20, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Jim Goodness continues: "It should be noted in this particular matter that when Fr. Hoatson was offered the chaplain position at Catholic Charities, Archbishop Myers stated that Father could work with victims of sexual abuse within the framework of Catholic Charities, which has extensive facilities and resources to deal with victims. Obviously, Fr. Hoatson chose to disregard the Archbishop’s encouraging recommendation."
Carolyne Curley July 20, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Jim Goodness continues: "Finally, Fr. Hoatson contends throughout his filing that he has been a victim of abuse from his earliest days, and that his time in high school, and as a member of the Christian Brothers congregation, and as both a seminarian and priest have been marred by a constant stream of sexual abuse by clergy and religious. Yet, in his own words, written during the time he was preparing for the priesthood, Father presents a very different picture – one in which he claims that his time in high school was idyllic, that his role models among the Christian Brothers in high school were exemplary, but that his problems with the religious life were centered around the rural atmosphere where he was living, and the onset of panic attacks."
Carolyne Curley July 20, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Jim Goodness continues: "Throughout his filing, Fr. Hoatson talks about his “belief” in the fabrications he outlined. As a Catholic layperson I, too, believe in many things – in redemption, and most specifically, in the power of prayer. I pray that you will all see Fr. Hoatson’s attempt to hide his own failings for what it is – the work of a troubled man, and that you see that this is newsworthy only in that a priest with failings has chosen not to seek help, but to lash out at those who are ready to help him through his troubles." Full Text: http://www.rcan.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=feature.display&feature_id=130 Fr. Hoatson’s November 6, 2002 request to leave Our Lady of Good Counsel School: http://www.rcan.org/images/press/hoatsonletter1.pdf Bishop Serratelli’s February 5, 2003 response acknowledging that his request would be effective in June 2003: http://www.rcan.org/images/press/seratelliletter1.pdf Statement issued by the Diocese of Albany, December 14, 2005 in response to a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York by Fr. Robert Hoatson: http://www.rcan.org/images/press/hoatson_albany.pdf
Robert Hoatson July 21, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Thank you, Andrea Lieberman, for your supportive words. It's heartening to know that some people just "get it." The protection of children is too important a mission to allow the naysayers and enablers to minimize it. Thanks again.

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