Ex-Foxboro Priest Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

By David Linton
Sun Chronicle
May 12, 2006

FOXBORO -- A retired priest pleaded guilty in Dedham Superior Court Thursday to molesting a young girl while serving at St. Mary's Church in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Father Gerard McMahon, 70, who now lives in Pensacola Fla., was sentenced by Judge Isaac Borenstein to a lifetime of probation, which will be served in Florida.

He must undergo a sex offender evaluation and obtain any treatment determined by the probation department. In addition, McMahon must register as a sex offender.

McMahon pleaded guilty at arraignment in a plea-bargain agreement with prosecutors.

The victim, who was 7 at the time the incidents began, was consulted about, and agreed with the disposition of the case, said David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating. McMahon knew the girl and her family and stayed overnight at her home, where the incidents occurred.

Prosecutors agreed to the plea-bargain after consulting with the victim and because of the diffi culties of trying a 40-year-old case when there is no physical evidence and some of the witnesses have died, Traub said.

" She wanted this man to admit and take respon sibility for what he did, and do it in open court in front of her," Traub said.

The disposition of the case also spares the vic tim the need to testify about her ordeal at trial, Traub said.

As a condition of his probation, McMahon must also remain free of alcohol and illicit drugs, pro vide a DNA sample to authorities and can have no contact with children under 16.

The victim wanted McMahon to have to register as a sex offender and was adamant about condi tions of probation prohibiting him from working with children, Traub said.

He pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape of a child and one count of indecent assault and battery on a person under the age of 14.

A Norfolk County grand jury indicted him on the charges last month. Prosecutors were able to obtain the indictment because the statute of limitations froze when McMahon left the state in 1970 to become a Navy chaplain.

McMahon retired from the military in 1990, according to information posted on the Internet in 1999, apparently by McMahon, himself.

McMahon then took a job for nine years as principal at St. Benedict School in Elberta, Ala. Elberta is about 28 miles from Pensacola, according to the posting.

St. Benedict is a small Catholic school for children through eighth grade.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee said McMahon was never assigned an official position in that diocese.

As soon as the diocese was given the information about McMahon, spokeswoman Peggy DeKeyser said, McMahon was instructed not to present himself as a priest or perform any priestly duties within the diocese.

McMahon's lawyer, Joseph Machera, did not return telephone calls seeking comment on the case.

He was quoted previously as saying his client did not remember the sexual assaults because he was an alcoholic who suffered blackouts.

DAVID LINTON can be reached at 508-236-0338 or at


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