Yes, This Is Unfortunate

By Steve Bailey
Boston Globe
June 4, 2003

Tourism is a $7 billion-a-year industry in Boston, and we are on the cusp of the big summer season. With that in mind, The Improper Bostonian, the glossy chronicler of overpriced restaurants, hotels, and retailers, last month put four Boston hotel concierges on the cover, and assigned each the task of planning a special weekend for your out-of-town guests. One concierge had ideas for how to entertain that hard-to-please "New York sophisticate," another was assigned your uncle, the arts aficionado, and a third put together a rock-and-roll weekend for your party animal college pal.

Then there was Robert Morrissette, the concierge at the Boston Harbor Hotel, who "offers a family-oriented tour-de-fun that will delight anyone who has children -- and goes to bed early," the Improper tells us. Morrissette's piece, "A Child's-Eye View," provided ideas for "your sister, with her school-age children," and was accompanied with photographs of kids at New England Aquarium and the Children's Museum.

What the Improper neglected to mention is that Morrissette's name had surfaced just six months earlier as a rogue Boston priest who had been forced from the church over allegations that he had sexually abused young boys. In December, both the Globe and the Herald reported that newly released documents identified Morrissette as one of the first abusive priests Cardinal Bernard Law faced when he came to Boston in 1984. At the time, Morrissette was accused to fondling a 16-year-old boy in the rectory room at St. Joseph's parish in Salem; at least three families complained of abuse. According to the records, Morrissette admitted that he had run his hand up and down the leg of the 16-year-old, but denied the other allegations. Morrissette was transferred to another parish, with one of Law's infamous "chin up" notes, but in 1993 an archdiocesan review board voted that Morrissette should be removed from the ministry.

In his Improper column, Morrissette suggests dinner in the North End -- "what kid doesn't love spaghetti or pizza?" -- and taking everyone over for a ride on the swan boats in the Public Garden. "Stroll down Boylston to FAO Schwarz, where the kids will enjoy climbing on the lap of the giant teddy bear at the corner of Boylston and Berkeley streets," Morrissette advised.

What were these people thinking? Morrissette, who won the Silver Plume Award as concierge of the year in 2002 from Where Magazine, said he "was just assigned the piece by the Improper. . . . It is not anything I chose in particular." He referred questions to hotel management, which declined to comment. Said Improper editor Veronica Chao, "This is unfortunate." . . .

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