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Advocates Rededicate Sexual Abuse Victims’ Memorial Twice Hit By Vandals

Monument Was Hit With Sledgehammer In 2011, Vandalized Again Last Month
N.J. Sexual Abuse Victims' Memorial

A crowd gathered Sunday to rededicate a memorial to victims of sexual abuse at a New Jersey church. (Credit: Jim Smith/WCBS 880)

MENDHAM, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Advocates for victims of child sexual abuse rededicated a monument in Morris County, N.J., Sunday that has twice been the target of vandalism.

The rededication ceremony for the monument outside St. Joseph Church in Mendham took place on Sunday afternoon.

Part of the millstone monument near St. Joseph Church in Mendham was destroyed last month for the second time in less than two years.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, the destroyed statue representing girl victims remained missing, and the boy figure remained heavily damaged, as of Sunday. But despite the second occurrence of vandalism, victims and families rededicated their efforts to crack down on child sex abuse.

“It takes all of us as a community to stand up,” said Mark Crawford, of the New Jersey Chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Crawford said the damaged memorial itself is symbolic.

“Not unlike victims of sexual abuse we’re often re-victimized,” he said.

A fundraising effort has gotten under way to repair and rebuild the sculptures. Monsignor Joseph Anginoli said the church has beefed up security.

“We’ve put several cameras in place, and we’ve got lighting,” he said.

Patrick Kelly is one of the child sexual abuse victims of the former priest at St. Joseph’s Church in Mendham. He said last month that the vandalism was not completely unexpected.

“As with the first time, I wasn’t surprised,” he said.

After all, Kelly said, with a memorial to the victims at St. Joseph Church, some backlash is expected.

“But to have it destroyed again, it’s just a shame, it really is,” he said, “but we’ll repair it, we’ll fix it, we’ll put it back the way it was.”

In 2003, Patrick Kelly’s brother, Jim, committed suicide by getting hit by an oncoming train in Morristown, New Jersey.

At the funeral, an idea was born for a memorial for those sexually abused by priests.

The first black stone monument stood on the grounds of the church until November 2011, when Gordon Ellis, then 37, allegedly smashed it to bits with a sledgehammer.

The monument was replaced last year. But last month, it was vandalized again.

Police are seeking help in identifying whoever was responsible for last month’s vandalism.

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