St. Mary’s sex-assault victims speak out

Lawrence Eagle-Tribune

August 29, 2020

By Breanna Edelstei

Women are among 11 in $1.4M Catholic church settlement

Two women who were sexually abused by the Rev. John J. Gallagher in the 1970s are speaking publicly — for the first time — about their childhood trauma with the hope of empowering other survivors and themselves.

The women, one who chooses to be named and another who does not, are among 11 people — 10 women and a man — represented by Boston Attorney Mitchell Garabedian in a joint lawsuit against the Catholic Church resolved earlier this year with a $1.4 million settlement.

In conversations with The Eagle-Tribune Thursday and Friday, the victims described sexual abuse that happened to them and others when Gallagher was assigned to St. Mary’s Church in Lawrence and the associated parish school from 1972 to 1979.

They also described the aftermath: sadness, anger, fear — the gamut of emotions — and alienation from their church.

“He taught us terror,” said the unnamed victim, who estimates Gallagher abused her hundreds of times from when she was 9 until she graduated from middle school.

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