Assignment Record– Rev. Thomas J. Gaffney

Summary of Case: Thomas J. Gaffney was ordained for the Archdiocese of New York in 1950. Early in his career he was an assistant priest in Rosendale, High Falls and Bronx parishes. He spent most of the following three decades as a high school educator - at Cardinal Hayes' in the Bronx 1955-1974, then St. Joseph by the Sea on Staten Island 1973-1982. For a time, he served as Assistant Dean at Cardinal Hayes, and he was Supervising Principal and then Principal at St. Joseph's. He was in residence for five of those years at a Staten Island mission for 'homeless and destitute' children. In 1982 Gaffney was named pastor of St. Charles on Staten Island, and he was elevated to Monsignor in 1987. He remained at St. Charles' until his death in 2004.

In October 2003 a 29-year-old man reported to law enforcement and to the archdiocese that Gaffney had sexually abused him over a three-year period, beginning when the man was a sixth-grader and altar boy at St. Charles. The man's attorney said he had evidence that Gaffney had also abused seven other children. Charges could not be filed due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. After the man went public in January 2004, a second man surfaced with similar allegations, which he said occurred when Gaffney was St. Joseph by the Sea's principal. Gaffney vehemently denied the allegations and countersued his first accuser. He was kept in ministry.

Gaffney died March 27, 2004.

Ordained: 1950
Died: March 27, 2004


Start Stop Assignments Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Archdiocese of New York

Archbishop was Francis Joseph Spellman (1939-1967).

1953 St. Peter's Rosendale NY 2/2

St. Peter's had a school with 79-90 boys and 67-73 girls.

1950 1953 Our Lady Help of Christians High Falls NY   This was a mission of St. Peter's in Rosendale.
1953 1955 St. Ann's New York (Bronx) NY 3/3, 2/3 St. Ann's had a school with 245-214 boys nad 243-230 girls.
1955 1974 Cardinal Hayes High School New York (Bronx) NY teacher; Assistant Dean 1970-1974 Cardinal Hayes' had 2,660-1,859 students, all male.


Spellman was succeeded by Terence James Cooke (1968-1983).

1982 St. Joseph by the Sea High School

New York (Staten Island)

In January 2004, after a man publicly alleged sexual abuse as a child by Gaffney as an altar boy at St. Charles parish, a second man came forward, with "similar allegations." He said his abuse by Gaffney occurred when the priest was Principal of St. Joseph by the Sea.

NY Supervising Principal 1973-1979; Principal 1979-1982 St. Joseph by the Sea had 609-1,076 students.
1977 1982 Mission of the Immaculate Virgin for the Protection of the Homeless and Destitute Children Mount Loretto (Staten Island) NY In residence Mission of the Immaculate Virgin had 549-278 boys and 242-134 girls.


John Joseph O'Connor replaced Cooke as New York archbishop (1984-2000), followed by Edward Michael Egan (2000-2009).

2004 St. Charles'

New York (Staten Island)

In October 2003 a 29-year-old man reported to the Staten Island District Attorney and to the archdiocese that Gaffney sexually abused him beginning when he was a sixth grader and St. Charles' altar boy. He said the abuse continued for three years, and that he told his parents for the first time in October 2003. Also according to Gaffney's accuser and his parents, the abuse caused him to have fainting spells whenever he stepped onto a church altar, and doctors could not identify a cause. The man's attorney, Bruce Nagel, said he had found evidence that Gaffney had abused seven other children.


1/4, 1/3

"Monsignor" beginning in 1987.

Retired 2001

St. Charles' had a school with 595-817 students, and a CCD program with 850-450 students.


Gaffney denied the abuse and filed a defamation of character lawsuit against his accuser. He was kept in ministry.

Charges were not filed because the statute of limitations had expired.







Gaffney died March 27, 2004.

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Sources: Official Catholic Directory (Kenedy & Sons, 1951-2005).

Kinnelon Man: N.Y. Priest a Molester, By Abbott Koloff, Daily Record, January 20, 2004
Victims Group Wants Priest Gone, By Stephanie Saul, Newsday, January 23, 2004
Priest Sues Man Who Accused Him of Abuse, By Abbott Koloff, Daily Record, February 15, 2004
Priests Sue over Allegations, By Guy Kovner, Press Democrat, March 22, 2004 
Monsignor Thomas Gaffney Obituary, The Journal News via, March 30, 2004

: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Gaffney's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with the allegations against him, as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on March 22, 2017.


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