Two Defend Coverage of Ex-Priest
Porter accusers say it helped them cope
By Luz Delgado
May 25, 1992 - THE BOSTON GLOBE
Two of the numerous men and women who have said they were raped
and sexually molested as children by former Massachusetts priest
James R. Porter yesterday defended news coverage of the case after
Cardinal Bernard Law charged Saturday that the media overplayed
"The media has helped me replace shame with affirmation, lost
innocence with empowerment, solitude with validation, and an aching
silence with healing," said Dennis Gaboury of Baltimore.
Gaboury, 40, has said Porter sexually abused him for nearly two
hours in the priest's locked office when Gaboury was a 10-year-old
altar boy at St. Mary's Church in North Attleborough.
North Attleborough resident Judy Mullet, who alleges she was raped
by Porter, said the news coverage has helped victims to realize
they are not alone.
"I'm a victim. I just want to find other victims and find
them some help," she said. "If for nothing else, just
to help those people who thought they were the only ones."
Other alleged victims of Porter met yesterday to draft a response
to Cardinal Law's comments on the coverage of the story.
Forty-seven men and women in New England have said that as children
they were raped or sexually molested by Porter while he served as
a priest in Roman Catholic parishes in North Attleborough, Fall
River and New Bedford between 1960 and 1967. Nine of them have said
they would sue the Catholic Church if it does not compensate them
for the damages they say they have suffered, and if it does not
act to help bring Porter to justice.
Porter, 58, who left the priesthood in 1967 and now lives in Oakdale,
Minn., has been questioned by authorities about more recent allegations
that he sexually molested a child there in the 1980s. Sources said
that at least one other Oakdale resident has come forward and alleged
sexual abuse by Porter.
Officials from the Bristol district attorney's office, who are
looking into the Massachusetts allegations, went to Minnesota to
assist with the questioning in the recent Oakdale case.
Porter has lived in Oakdale since the early 1970s. He is married
and has four children.
Porter has declined repeated requests to speak to the Globe about
the allegations. But in tape-recorded telephone conversations with
one of his alleged victims, Frank Fitzpatrick, a man Fitzpatrick
identifies as Porter admitted that he molested 50 to 100 boys and
girls while a priest in Massachusetts.
Speaking at an antiviolence march in Roxbury Saturday, Cardinal
Law singled out the Globe in particular to criticize news coverage
of the accusations. ''The papers like to focus on the faults of
a few," he said. "We deplore that. . . . By all means
we call down God's power on the media, particularly the Globe."
Mullet, one of the nine people who first accused Porter of sexual
abuse, described Cardinal Law's comments as "typical of the
Roman Catholic Church."
"They don't want to deal with it," she said. "It's
a problem they don't want to face. . . . They're confronted with
evil, and what do they do? Nothing.
"We're not lying. This is the truth. This really happened.
The man was a priest, and you would think the church would be responsible
Mullet, 42, said Porter raped her several times when she was 10
or 11 and a student at St. Mary's School in North Attleborough.
"I never forgot it," she said.
The group statement being drafted yesterday was expected to be
"It will be a statement from the survivors of Father Porter
as a group," Gaboury said. "I think what we want to do
is affirm our original intent. We're not going to face anger with
anger. This is not about anger. It's about the loss of innocence
and healing and bringing people together."
Attempts to reach Boston Archdiocese spokesman John Walsh for comment
were unsuccessful last night.
Mullet said she finds it hard to believe that church officials
were unaware Porter was sexually abusing children.
"It happened in the church, and the church was aware of it,"
"He did it everywhere. At the kids' homes. At the church.
In the rectory. He fondled people openly everywhere. At church dances.
In the halls. He came to the pool. He was always patting people's
fannies. But the kids knew, because we all, we used to say, 'got
Two other alleged victims, John Robitaille and Steven Johnson,
have said that another priest walked in while they were being sexually
assaulted by Porter in separate instances at St. Mary's Church in
North Attleborough, but walked out without taking any action. Porter
was at St. Mary's from 1960 until 1963.
Mullet said that being raped by Porter has affected her religious
"I'm very confused about my faith," she said. "I
never went back to church after high school. It's a confusing thing
when the person who is supposed to be so good -- I mean, he's next
to God when you're so little. I didn't even know what sex was back
then, then all of a sudden he does something like that.
"If you can't trust your priest, who can you trust?"