Ex-Wife of Convicted Pedophile Says Death a Relief
Ex-Husband Porter Was Convicted of Molesting 28 Children [New Bedford MA]
February 14, 2005

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. -- The former wife of convicted pedophile and former priest James Porter, who had accused him of abusing three of their four children, said his death on Friday brought her a sense of relief but also renewed feelings of hurt and betrayal.

Verlyne K. Gray, who lives in Minnesota, spoke in an interview published Monday in the Standard-Times of New Bedford about her former husband. He was convicted in 1993 of molesting 28 children while a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River in the 1960s. His case was an early bellwether of the broader clergy abuse scandal a decade later.

"I thought that now he can't hurt anyone else. I hoped he had come to terms with what he did," she said. "I had wished he had apologized, which he never did. He just caused so much pain and suffering and that would have been one step that could have helped."

Porter, 70, had finished his prison sentence and was awaiting a civil commitment hearing to decide if he would be released or held as a sexually dangerous person when he died of cancer.

Gray divorced Porter in 1995 after 19 years of marriage. They had married after he left the priesthood, when he was 42 and she was 24. She said he abused three of their four children. One son died in 2003 at the age of 23. The three other children are now 28, 23 and 13.

"If he really loved his kids, he would not have put them in the middle of this. He would have said, 'Yes, I did it," and accepted his punishment," Gray said. "It's really sad he never understood the harm he caused."

Porter was never convicted of abusing his children. He was convicted in 1992 of sexually abusing a baby sitter in Minnesota.

Gray said she and the children had not been in touch with Porter for years, but his death was difficult for the children.

"It's hard on them. He was their father," she said. "There's always a love for their father, regardless of what he did."


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