Man Says Abuse Included 10 Others

By Linda Matchan
Boston Globe
September 10, 1992

A 41-year-old Southeastern Massachusetts man said yesterday that he and at least 10 other Fall River boys were sexually molested by Rev. Paul Connolly during the same period of the 1960s that another priest, James Porter, was molesting children in the Diocese of Fall River.

The man, who asked not to be identified, said that one boy's parents discovered the abuse and informed Bishop James L. Connolly, who headed the diocese at the time. (The bishop was not related to the priest.) Shortly after that, he said, Father Connolly was transferred to a parish in Hyannis. Last month, when charges against him surfaced and he was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, Father Connolly was pastor at St. Mary's Church in Taunton.

Last week, Bishop Sean P. O'Malley of Fall River expressed "great sorrow" in acknowledging the abuse allegations, which Father Connolly has denied.

"Obviously, there were problems in the Fall River Diocese in the 1960s," said Roderick MacLeish Jr., the attorney for three people who accuse Father Connolly and for about 70 men and women who say they were victimized by Porter.

In an interview yesterday, one Southeastern Massachusetts man said he was a 12-year-old altar boy at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in 1964 when Father Connolly began molesting him.

"We liked him and respected him," he said. "I felt comfortable with him." He said he happily took a job answering phones in the rectory on occasional evenings at Connolly's invitation, but after a period of time Father Connolly began to sexually abuse him, fondling his genitals, in the church rectory or in the car when the priest drove him home.

"It was like he had it well-planned. Sometimes he would take us places, but he would start out by warming up to the parents first," the man said.

He said he learned that other altar boys were having similar experiences with the priest, and in 1965 told his mother Father Connolly was "queer." He said his father then told the priest "to stay away from me, and he never bothered me anymore."

Two years later, he said, another altar boy he knew told his own father about experiences with the priest, and that parent reported the charges to Bishop Connolly and then angrily confronted Father Connolly. "He punched him in the mouth," he said. "He never denied it, and two weeks later he was transferred to Hyannis."

The man said he has given a statement about his experiences to an attorney for the Fall River Diocese and was told the case would be investigated. MacLeish said the diocese has offered "to pay for his therapy unconditionally.

Meanwhile, a Massachusetts attorney representing Porter against possible criminal charges said yesterday that a Bristol County grand jury was looking into the allegations against the former priest.

Concord attorney Peter DeGelleke said that as part of this investigation, a subpoena was issued in June to the Fall River diocese, seeking Porter's personnel records containing psychiatric reports, along with other information. He said Superior Court Judge George Keady has notified Porter of the investigation.

District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. acknowledged yesterday that the personnel records were subpoenaed by a grand jury but the panel is not considering the Porter case at this time.

"The only way to get records is through a grand jury. We requested his records, but that could be the end of the process," Walsh said.


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