Tape Reveals Details of Priest's Double Life

By Eric Convey
Boston Herald [Boston MA]
January 31, 2004

The Rev. James D. Foley confessed in a tape recording broadcast last night that he lived a double life in which he served as a popular priest while also carrying on an affair and deliberately fathering two children.

"I always tried to, to be a good priest," Foley told the children of the late Rita Perry, who had been his lover. "I knew that I was a hypocrite. And that I, I had done things that I regretted deeply, deeply, deeply."

James, Emily, Rich and Chris Perry recorded an extraordinary conversation with Foley last year - with his consent, they said - after the archdiocese inadvertantly released documents disclosing the affair with their mother to lawyers. The family allowed the broadcast of the tape last night on the TV program "Dateline NBC."

The conversation with Foley, who has been unavailable for comment, provides painful details of his affair with Rita Perry.

Having children was her idea, he said. "She begged me and begged me and begged me to be able to bear my child," he said.

DNA tests performed last year on a court order indicated James Perry and Emily Perry are Foley's children.

Shortly after Emily's birth, Foley obtained permission to fill an assignment in Canada. Rita Perry pursued him, he said.

Eventually, the relationship did end - but only temporarily.

When Foley returned, he said, he pursued her and rekindled the affair.

"I think I was very depressed. I just missed the, the intimacy of the relationship," he said on the tape.

The affair came to an end one night in 1973 when Rita Perry was found dead in her home. She'd overdosed on barbiturates.

For most of their lives, the children thought their mother, who had suffered from severe depression, died alone.

But according to church records that included an early-1990s confession by Foley to church leaders, Foley was present the night Rita Perry died. He said he fled her home, returned to call for help, and then left again before police arrived, according to hand-written notes.

Foley said in the tape broadcast last night that the night Rita Perry died, they slept together. When he tried to leave, the priest said, she "got a bit hysterical."

Foley told the Perry children that archdiocesan officials must have gotten confused - that he never left their mother before she died and thought she'd be OK when he did depart.

According to the Perry children, Bishop John McCormack of Manchester, N.H., who had taken notes of the Foley meeting as an official in the Archdicoese of Boston, told them in a face-to-face conversation that he clearly remembered Foley confessing to leaving the house.

Foley said he never followed up with police because "I was scared to death and I was protecting myself."

The children filed a wrongful death suit against the priest. The Archdiocese of Boston settled it for an undisclosed amount earlier this week.


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