Life on Parole for Rapist Priest Put to Bed with Girl by Parents

By Laurel J. Sweet
Boston Herald [Foxboro MA]
May 12, 2006

A retired Foxboro priest pleaded guilty yesterday to raping a child nearly 40 years ago after prosecutors divulged the victim's parents would put him in bed with her to sleep off his drunken stupors.

The Rev. Gerard McMahon, 70, frail and hard-of-hearing, faced dying behind bars. He was instead sentenced to life on probation by Norfolk Superior Court Judge Issac Borenstein, who forbade him from being around children.

"What happened to the little girl wasn't right," said McMahon's defense attorney, Joseph Machera, "but my belief is that if they had put this priest on the couch he never would have gone looking for her in her bedroom."

Retired priest Gerard McMahon, 70, was sentenced to life on parole for the rape of a child.
Photo by Nancy Lane

Prosecutor Jeanmarie Carroll said the sexual abuse occurred between the summers of 1967 and 1970, when McMahon left St. Mary's Church to become a Navy chaplain in the Vietnam War.

The parents of the victim, who was 6 when McMahon first molested her and is now 44, "were very involved with the local parish," Carroll said. "Father McMahon was a frequent visitor in her family's home.

"Her parents always had very large dinner parties and a lot of company in the home. There were times when he (McMahon) was not capable of driving home and so he would stay over for the night and be placed in her bed by one of her parents."

The victim's father is now deceased. Her mother was not in court.

Carroll said the victim kept the abuse a secret until she was 20.

She did not confront McMahon until last year, when she wrote him at his Florida home.

McMahon, a recovering alcoholic, wrote back, "begging forgiveness," Carroll said.

But when the disgraced cleric and the little girl whose innocence he stole came face to face yesterday, she turned him down flat.

"What if I took your faith away? Or your God? What would you have then?" she asked McMahon, her voice quaking. "What you did to my body is done and finished, but what you did to my soul has lasted a lifetime."


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