Alleged Victim Blasts Church Advocate

By Robin Washington
Boston Herald
February 11, 2003

A woman allegedly raped by convicted pedophile and former priest James R. Porter 35 years ago blasted the Archdiocese of Boston's top victims' advocate yesterday for divulging the details of a confidential conversation.

The discussion between the alleged victim and Office of Healing and Assistance Director Barbara Thorp was made public when a portion of Porter's personnel file was released with the records of eight other priests, including one lauded as a positive influence on the life of University of Massachusetts President William Bulger.

"She promised me everything I told her would be confidential. How dare she do this!" the alleged victim said.

The 46-year-old woman said she told Thorp she sought counseling from the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, a onetime family friend, after the Porter abuse story broke in 1992.

After Shanley himself was arrested on child rape charges last year, she visited him in his jail cell.

"I specifically said to her, 'Please do not tell anyone about that.' She absolutely betrayed me," she said of Thorp, who kept notes of the Oct. 14, 2002, meeting and forwarded them to the Rev. Sean Connor, the archdiocese's clergy sexual abuse investigator.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne, an archdiocese spokesman, said he could not discuss conversations between Thorp and any victim.

But he said, "Obviously, if there was an agreement and there was a misunderstanding, there needs to be a better understanding."

Yet Lori Lambert of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors said Thorp told her she kept only minimal notes on victim meetings.

"It's an absolute outrage. She knows these documents are flying out the door to (lawyers') offices," she said.

Among other files released by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. as part of discovery in the Shanley civil case were those of:

- The late Rev. Leo Dwyer, whose file contains a 1993 allegation that he and two other clerics sexually abused a boy at St. Mary's parish in Hull in the 1960s.

In an unrelated claim not in the file, a man represented by attorney Carmen Durso last year made a similar allegation of abuse by Dwyer at the same church. But a different side of the priest was unveiled in a 1988 interview with then-Senate President Bulger, who said his brother, reputed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, did not benefit from Dwyer's influence.

"He missed that," William Bulger told The Boston Globe, adding he and his friends used to hitchhike with Dwyer to Provincetown and Milton.

The year before, The Associated Press reported Dwyer presided over William Bulger's wedding, and reported he considered both William and Whitey "very good friends."

Dwyer died in 1989.

- The Rev. Paul J. McLaughlin's file contains allegations made last year of two incidents at Arlington's St. Rita's parish in the 1960s, one a single mention of nonspecified physical abuse and the other that the priest told boys to "do nude Greco-Roman wrestling."

Now retired in California, McLaughlin said he couldn't comment because he did not know of the nature of the allegations, which he first learned about in November.

"I would love to talk to you but I don't know the details," he said, decrying the church's handling of the case and his ban from occasional ministry. "I'm not trying to make light of any of these things but it just seems to me the whole sense of Christianity has been lost," he said. "All I want to do is be a priest again and do the things I like to do and people like me to do. But I can't do anything about that right now but wait."

- The Rev. Victor C. LaVoie's record shows no allegations until July 2002, when lawyers wrote a man was alleging sexual contact in 1979. LaVoie was placed on leave from his pastorship of St. Eulalia's in Winchester nine days later.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.