Pedophile Priest Must Not Go Free

The Enterprise [Massachusetts]
Downloaded April 10, 2004

The most dangerous man in prison may well be James Porter, the former priest who is accused of molesting and raping about 100 children. Remarkably, Porter's prison time is finished and he wants his freedom. But this is the type of situation the one-day-to-life civil commitment was created for ' to keep dangerous criminals segregated from society after they have done their time.

It's hard to believe that Porter has been locked up for a decade after his conviction for molesting 23 children. It seems like just yesterday when a troubled group of adults trudged through a Massachusetts courtroom and told their tales of horror ' how Porter had molested and raped them, some of them a 100 times. They were baby sitters, altar boys, anyone who was young and vulnerable. Porter abused them and threw them away when they got too old or too scared and he thought they might tell someone.

Some of these same victims appeared in a Taunton courtroom again this week to retell their stories and how many of them are still suffering, 30 or 40 years after the crimes. It would stun us to see Porter walk free again.

But the law being what it is, there is always that possibility. Porter was sentenced under old guidelines and is technically able to be paroled. Bristol County District Attorney Paul Walsh argued in court that Porter is still a sexually dangerous person and is likely to reoffend.

That is true of most pedophiles. It is a sickness that cannot be cured. It can be controlled ' to some degree ' but never cured. Society should not have to take a chance that Porter will have a relapse and start preying on children again.

The comment of Porter's lawyer, Michael Farrington, "You know what happens to the libido past 50. Most of the [assaults] they are talking about are 20 years old or older," is not evidence of anything except that Porter has grown older in prison.

Pedophilia knows no age boundaries. Porter, over decades, raped children in their homes, in church, in school gymnasiums. He attacked children wherever the church sent him ' Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Minnesota. The Catholic Archdiocese of Fall River eventually paid $5 million to Porter's many victims in Massachusetts.

Porter was one of the first priests to finally get his due and opened the floodgates of charges against the Catholic Church and how it protected the pedophiles hiding behind clerical collars. Porter, if anyone, remains a symbol of the chaos and moral corruption that has enveloped the church in recent years. No one need to be kept in prison more than Porter; his crimes are fresh in our minds and his potential for further crimes is too great.


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