A beloved Bronx priest intentionally steered a boy to a known molester in the 1980s, leading to months of sexual abuse, according to a new lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court.
It claims Bishop John Jenik was allegedly abusing children himself when he “trafficked” a then-14-year-old Shawn Ganley to ex-con counselor Paul Gruber, whom Jenik knew was abusing other minor students at Our Lady of Refuge School, Ganley claims in court papers.
Gruber was convicted of sexual abuse charges in the mid 1980s after another victim’s parents complained, sparking a police investigation that Jenik allegedly tried to derail by intimidating kids into silence, Ganley has charged.
“It was terrifying,” Ganley told The Post, adding, “He was really leaning on me, telling me, ‘You don’t want to do this, you don’t want to give a statement.’”
Jenik, who oversaw the Our Lady of Refuge after-school program where Gruber volunteered, allegedly knew exactly what would happen when he suggested Gruber give Ganley an IQ test, claims Ganley.
“Jenik, knowing that Paul Gruber was a sexual assaulter of young boys, trafficked [Ganley] to Gruber when he assigned this predator to act as [his] guidance counselor,” Ganley charged in court papers.
The bishop resigned from Our Lady of Refuge in 2018 after a “credible” allegation of child abuse from the 1980s surfaced against him.
Jenik denied the allegations when reached by The Post.
“No, absolutely not, that’s bizarre,” he said.
The bishop insisted Gruber was not an employee and that he “just hung around a lot. We just didn’t want him around, period.”
“We knew the guy was bad,” said the priest, who also asked of the allegations, “How far does this go back?”
Jenik’s exit from Our Lady of Refuge sparked a community protest on his behalf. The bishop was known for marching in the streets against drugs and crime.
Ganley is suing Gruber, Jenik and the Archdiocese under New York’s Child Victims Act, which opened a legal window to revive old sex-abuse cases.
Gruber, a tutor in Arlington, Virginia, could not be reached for comment.
Additional victims and witnesses have come forward, said Ganley’s lawyer, Craig Vernon, who added the lawsuit “allows Shawn to seek justice not only against the man who sexually assaulted him but also against the Priest who made it all possible.”
Ganley urged other victims to remember, “It is not your shame. I stand with you.”