Ex-Ridgefield Park Priest Takes Leave After Onetime Altar Boy Describes Sex Abuse

UPDATE: A no-holds-barred account of sex abuse has gotten a once-popular Ridgefield Park priest removed from his current position.

St. Francis of Assisi Church, Ridgefield Park
St. Francis of Assisi Church, Ridgefield Park Photo Credit: Googlemaps
Edward Hanratty
Edward Hanratty Photo Credit: PHOTO: Courtesy Ed Hanratty

An investigation by the Archdiocese of Newark was continuing into the allegations against the Rev. Gerald Sudol at St. Francis of Assisi Church following an online column by village native Ed Hanratty that went viral, a spokesman for the diocese said.

Sudol took a leave of absence as reverend in residence at Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church in Jersey City while the investigation proceeds, said the spokesman, Jim Goodness.

Another local priest -- the Rev. Jim Weiner, pastor of St. Andrew's Church in Westwood -- also has taken a leave amid allegations of sexual misconduct, Goodness confirmed.

SEE: Another North Jersey Priest Takes Leave Of Absence Amid Sexual Misconduct Investigation

Sudol -- who was at St. Francis from 1986 to 1994 and also spent some time at Bergen Catholic High School – had previously been accused of sexual abuse 14 years ago. The archdiocese settled out of court and reassigned him to a hospice, records show.

An archdiocesan trial board later cleared Sudol of any wrongdoing amid the Catholic Church's sex-abuse scandal of the early 2000s. 

He ended up at the Polish church in Jersey City, which has an elementary school.

The seeds of his removal were sown earlier this month, with the column by Hanratty and a subsequent Daily Voice interview with the former altar boy.

It was the summer before 8th grade when Sudol sexually abused him in the family pool, Hanratty said.

Before then, the Ridgefield Park native said, Sudol kissed him and other boys on the mouth -- but instead of telling their parents, the boys made jokes about his sexuality.

“None of us ever thought to complain to anyone. Not our parents. Not our teachers….Nobody,” Hanratty, 41, previously wrote in a column.

“On Wednesday night we’d be making jokes about him loving men (because we considered ourselves men, not boys) and on Thursday morning he’d be kissing us on the lips after the 7:00 mass,” he added.

Then came the day that Hanratty said he found himself alone with "Father Gerry" in the family swimming pool during one of several times the priest came to dinner.

“It was the worst thing that I ever experienced,” Hanratty told Daily Voice.

He kept quiet for more than 30 years, other than to confide in a chosen few amid the 2002 Catholic sex abuse scandal.

“This summer things changed,” Hanratty said. “The news that Father Gerry’s superior – Archbishop Theodore McCarrick -- was himself accused of sexually abusing children sent me into a tailspin. I had a mini breakdown on Facebook about it one Sunday as I sat on a bar stool inhaling IPAs like they were oxygen. I knew it wasn’t healthy, I knew I had to speak up.

“If you asked me a week ago, I would probably give you half-truths, insinuations and vague hints,” he wrote to Daily Voice in a private-message interview. “But it’s all out in the open now.

“Once Pennsylvania broke, I couldn’t keep it in anymore.”

What broke was a grand jury report revealing that more than 1,000 children had been abused by 300 Catholic "predator priests" and bishops in six Pennsylvania dioceses since the 1940s.

Church leaders covered up the crimes, abruptly shifting priests to other parishes or allowing them to resign or retire, the grand jury report issued last week said.

Only two priests ended up charged with criminal offenses.

To Hanratty, the numbers of abused youngsters cited in the grand jury report “popped off of computer screens across the globe like sparks hitting the unprotected eye of a steelworker.”

“I read lines that were almost autobiographical,” he told Daily Voice.

It began when he was an altar boy. READ MORE ....


ALSO SEE: The Rev. Jim Weiner of St. Andrew's Church in Westwood hosted cocktail parties attended by known homosexual priests from the Archiocese of Newark, several priests claim in a published report.


to follow Daily Voice Ridgefield Park-Hasbrouck Heights and receive free news updates.