Letter by Laurence E. Hardoon to Wilson D. Rogers, Jr.
with Accounts by Survivors of Abuse by Rev. John M. Cotter

These documents from the Boston archdiocesan personnel file of Rev. John M. Cotter were sent by attorney Laurence E. Hardoon to archdiocesan attorney Wilson D. Rogers, Jr.  Newspaper coverage (1 2 3) of survivor Robert Costello's original complaint had helped other Cotter survivors to come forward, and these Cotter documents were gathered by Hardoon to demonstrate the gravity of the abuse they had suffered.

The documents shed light on the dynamics of abuse and revelation within a parish, and on the way in which abuse is perpetuated by the transfer of an offending priest. In pairing survivors' witness with sensitive evaluations by therapists, the documents also show the terrible effects of clerical abuse and the difficult process of recovery. The abuse that is discussed in these documents is similar in its brutality to abuse cases involving Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham and Rev. Paul R. Shanley, who attended St. John's Seminary with Cotter and graduated with him in the notorious Class of 1960. The documents illustrate a priest's use of the Boy Scouts to procure victims and his use of secular facilities as venues for abuse.

These documents were redacted by attorney Roderick MacLeish before they were filed. We have made additional redactions to keep the identities of survivors and parishioners confidential. We thank Robert Costello for permitting us to identify him as the original complainant. His courage enabled many other Cotter victims to come forward. See also Costello's remarkable letter to John Paul II and an article describing subsequent events.

These Cotter cases and others were eventually settled by the Boston archdiocese.

Letter by Laurence E. Hardoon

Outline of Supporting Documents

Accounts of Survivors

Supporting Witnesses

"Notice" to the Archdiocese

Clergy Malpractice, by James C. Brincefield and John R. Hartnett, Justice for Children (Vol. 2, No. 1, 1989)


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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