Fr. Thomas Rainforth – Diocese of Paterson

| Apr 16, 2019 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Thomas Rainforth

Diocese of Paterson

Ordained: 1973

Removed: 2002

Reinstated: 2003

Named in a civil lawsuit (later settled): 2004

Died: 2019

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Joseph’s (Mendham, NJ)
  • St. Philip the Apostle (Clifton, NJ)
  • St. Joseph Medical Center (Paterson, NJ)
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish (St. John, U.S.V.I)
  • St. James the Greater (Montague, NJ)
  • St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital (Wayne, NJ)

Summary of Abuse Allegation against Father Thomas Rainforth:

In July 2002, an adult man accused Fr. Thomas Rainforth of molestation. Rainforth was accused of fondling the adolescent boy on one occasion in a bed at the priest’s lake house in Sussex County, in 1975. Rainforth denied the allegations and was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.  The alleged incident would have occurred while Rainforth was serving as a priest at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Clifton, where he worked from 1973 to 1976.  Rainforth worked during this time under Rev. James Hanley, another priest accused of multiple incidents of child sexual abuse.

In November 2002, the Diocese of Paterson’s internal review board reviewed the allegations and determined that the actions complained of did not constitute sexual abuse as defined by the United States Catholic Bishops, according to media reports. It did however determine that Rainforth acted inappropriately with the complainant. Rainforth was reinstated and returned to active ministry.

According to media reports, in 2004, Rainforth was named in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 21 victims in the Diocese of Paterson. The claim, which was disputed, was included in the February 2005 global $5 million settlement with 27 plaintiffs alleging abuse by multiple priests. One media report indicates that Fr. James Hanley, an admitted serial molester, “also said in a previous court document that he knew at least five priests who knew or strongly suspected he had been molesting children,” including Rainforth.

In December 2019, one new accuser filed a lawsuit under New Jersey’s new Victim’s Rights Bill alleging that Rainforth sexually abused him as a minor. According to media reports, he claimed he was abused by Rainforth and two other priests starting in 1974 when he was between 11 and 13 years old, and attended St. Joseph’s parish in Mendham, New Jersey.

In addition to being a Catholic priest, Rainforth was also an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.

Rainforth died in 2019. His name was not included on the Diocese of Paterson’s February 2019 list of credibly accused priests.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Paterson. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Paterson, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Paterson now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Call us at 888-283-9922 or send an email to [email protected] to discuss your options today.