Accuser Testifies in Second Day of Hingham Priest's Rape Trial

By Gloria Negri
Boston Globe
September 23, 1993

A 27-year-old man testified yesterday that a Catholic priest first molested him at age 13, in a hospital bed where the boy lay recovering from testicular surgery.

He said the priest then raped and sexually abused him over a period of three years at the priest's vacation homes in Scituate and Vermont.

Charged in the case is Rev. John R. Hanlon, 65, who is on leave as pastor of St. Paul's Church in Hingham and was assigned to St. Mary's Church in Plymouth when the offenses allegedly took place in 1980, 1981 and 1982. In June 1992, Father Hanlon was indicted on two counts of rape of a child by force and three counts of assault with intent to commit rape of a child.

The man said he was "so ashamed" of his relationship with the priest that years later, on Oct. 31, 1991, he loaded a gun and was "either going to kill Father Hanlon or myself." Police were called, he said, and that was the first time he had spoken to anyone of his relationship with the priest. "I first feared him and then I got to hate him," the man said under questioning by Plymouth County prosecutor Geline Williams.

In her opening statements on Tuesday, Williams said the priest had also molested the man's two younger brothers.

Under cross-examination by J. Albert Johnson, Father Hanlon's attorney, the priest's accuser admitted having had alcohol-induced blackouts and having used drugs on occasion. He said he had started drinking at age 8.

Now the father of four children, the witness said he has had a difficult relationship with his own father. He also said that on one or two occasions he has had to have psychiatric evaluations.

Yesterday, the second day of the priest's trial in Plymouth Superior Court, the alleged victim was the only witness in a courtroom filled with family and former parishioners of the priest.

Under direct questioning by Williams, the witness, who said he is unemployed, gave a graphic account of adolescent sexual encounters with Father Hanlon, both at the priest's summer cottage in Scituate and at his ski chalet in Vermont. He said he went with the priest to a nude beach in Vermont and that the priest once purchased a case of beer for him.

The alleged victim said he first met Father Hanlon when he and his younger brothers served as altar boys for him at St. Mary's.

Under cross-examination by Johnson, the man said he had used Father Hanlon's name as a witness in 1984, when he made a claim against Pepsi-Cola Co., alleging he had found a foreign substance in a bottle of Mountain Dew.

The man acknowledged that he had received a settlement of $ 1,500 from the company.

Johnson asked the man why he continued seeing Father Hanlon even though he said he stopped seeing him after 1982. The man said Father Hanlon had presided at his wedding in 1987 "because my parents insisted on it." The man said that Father Hanlon had baptized his first child, but added that he did not recall asking him to.


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