Prosecutor Tells of More Alleged Rapes by Hingham Priest; 3 Brothers in Same Family Were Victims in Early 1980s, State Charges
By Gloria Negri
September 22, 1993
A Plymouth County prosecutor said yesterday that a Hingham priest, charged with molesting and raping an altar boy 13 years ago, also molested the boy's two younger brothers on other occasions.
The prosecutor, Geline Williams, said the three, all altar boys when the priest was assigned to St. Mary's Church in Plymouth, will testify to those events, as will their parents. The three are all now married with children of their own.
In outlining the case against Rev. John R. Hanlon on the first day of his Superior Court trial, Williams told a jury of 10 men and six women that Father Hanlon, 65, raped the oldest brother, now 28, in a Scituate cottage he owns with another priest.
However, J. Albert Johnson, Father Hanlon's attorney, told the jury the prosecutor's opening statement "cannot be considered evidence in this case. It is just allegations."
A large group of former and present parishioners at Father Hanlon's churches were in the courtroom yesterday in a show of support, as they were during jury selection for his trial last week.
Father Hanlon is on leave as pastor of St. Paul's Church in Hingham.
Earlier, Johnson said he had asked Judge Richard J. Stearns to have the jury sequestered because of the pretrial publicity on Father Hanlon's case. "So much of it was negative," Johnson said. He said there was "no question that Father Hanlon had been painted with the same broad brush," to associate him in the public mind with former Massachusetts priest James R. Porter.
Porter, 58, a married father of four living in Minnesota, was accused of rape or sexual abuse by 48 New England men and women.
In her opening, Williams told the jury: "This is a case against a man who happens to be a priest, not against the Catholic Church."
In June 1992 in Plymouth Superior Court, Father Hanlon was indicted on two counts of rape of a child by force and three counts of assault with intent to commit rape of a child. He pleaded innocent and has remained free without bail.
The alleged rapes took place betwen June and September 1980, as did the alleged first assault, according to court records. The last two alleged assaults, according to the records, occurred in 1981 and 1982.
In her statement, Williams portrayed Father Hanlon as "an educated man" who had a home on the water in Scituate and a ski chalet in Vermont, "a man parents enjoyed having their kids around."
The family of the three young men, she said, "had no money, no property.
They are a working-class family who devoted itself to its children and its church."
Williams said there were other allegations of the three young men of sexual molestations by Father Hanlon during visits to his ski chalet. "The brothers never told one another or their parents of these things," she said. At one time, she said, Father Hanlon told the oldest boy "to keep his mouth shut" about the alleged assaults.
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