Newark Priest to Head New Chapter of Survivor Group

Newsday [Newark NJ]
June 5, 2003

NEWARK, N.J. -- A priest critical of the Roman Catholic church's response to sexual abuse allegations has been chosen to lead a new chapter of a watchdog group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The Rev. Robert Hoatson's post for central New Jersey was announced Thursday by SNAP Mid-Atlantic director Mark Serrano.

Hoatson was removed last month as director of schools at Our Lady of Good Counsel, a Catholic elementary and high school in Newark. He has said his removal was retaliation for speaking out on priest abuse.

Newark archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said Hoatson's removal was "solely related to performance and personality issues at the school."

Over the past year, SNAP has received "countless calls from victims of clergy sexual abuse who turned to (Newark) Archbishop (John) Myers and the archdiocese for help after years of suffering in shame, guilt and silence," Serrano said. "Unfortunately, the archbishop has made it clear to these victims that help will not be found at his doorstep."

SNAP on Thursday also reiterated its call for Hoatson's reinstatement at Our Lady of Good Counsel. Goodness said that will not happen.

A review board examining charges of priest misconduct had been set up by the archdiocese 10 years ago and there was "not a single priest in this diocese who is in ministry today against whom an allegation has been lodged," Goodness said.

Serrano got a $350,000 settlement from the Diocese of Paterson in 1987. He said a recently defrocked priest, James Hanley, molested him from 1974 to 1981, when he was between the ages of 9 and 16 and the priest served at St. Joseph Church in Mendham. Serrano now lives in Leesburg, Va.

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