Sibling of Victim Gets Apology from Priest's Sis

By Robin Washington
Boston Herald
June 18, 2002

The nation's Catholic bishops returned from their Dallas meeting and the arduous debate on the priest sex scandal with the promise to seek reconciliation with their flock.

But for some families, healing is better handled on their own.

Joyce Cannon of Winchester said she experienced that when the sister of the priest who allegedly molested her brother called to apologize.

"She was so sorry for our pain," said Cannon, whose brother, Gery, was allegedly abused at St. Thomas More Parish in Braintree beginning in 1960, when he was 9.

He died in 1994 of AIDS contracted as an adult.

His alleged abuser, the Rev. James Hutchinson, died in 1979, his alleged actions unreported. "His family knew nothing at all about it," Cannon said. "His sister was much younger than him and knew very little about him. She's devastated."

That revelation came after a protest outside the bishops' meeting Friday, where Reading's Anne Barrett Doyle held a sign depicting Gery and his abuse.

Doyle and her sign were captured by a Herald photographer, whose work appeared in the next day's paper, seen by another of Hutchinson's relatives in Boston, who called the priest's sister in Florida. "She was shocked and she called Anne Barrett Doyle," said Cannon, explaining how word eventually reached her.

Yesterday, the two women - sisters of alleged abuser and abused - spoke and shared their grief. "She was so sincere and genuine. She said, 'I have no more tears to cry,' " Cannon said.

But Greg Cannon, another brother, found some of his own.

"It's much too late for that," he said, weeping, upon first hearing of the apology.

But after composing himself, he said, "I'm grateful to the Hutchinson family. I just shudder to think of the number of people they will have to apologize to."


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