Testimony Given of Hingham Priest's Behavior

By Gloria Negri
Boston Globe
March 12, 1994

Two former altar boys at St. Paul's Church in Hingham testified yesterday that Rev. John R. Hanlon, the former pastor there, raped one of them and made sexual advances toward the other during separate visits to his ski chalet in Vermont.

One incident occurred in 1987 and the other in 1990.

The two men, now 22 and 20, did not testify in Father Hanlon's first trial in October, which ended with a deadlocked jury.

Father Hanlon, 65, is not charged with molesting the men. But Superior Court Judge Cortland Mathers told the jury the prosecution contends the new testimony will show "a pattern, a modus operandi," to Father Hanlon's behavior.

The priest is accused of raping William Wood, 27, of Plymouth. Wood, who has given permission for his name to be used in news accounts, alleges that he was raped by Father Hanlon 14 years ago during visits to the priest's vacation homes in Scituate and Vermont.

As a child, Wood served as an altar boy at St. Mary's Church in North Plymouth when Father Hanlon was assigned there.

Defense Attorney Marshall E. Johnson said he had not yet decided whether to call Father Hanlon as a witness when the trial resumes Monday.

The 22-year-old man testified yesterday that he first went to Vermont with Father Hanlon in 1987 and that on that visit the priest rented a "pornographic" video.

He said that he shared a room with Father Hanlon but that each had his own bed. He said he was awakened by the priest "getting into my bed and saying he was cold." He alleged Father Hanlon then raped him. "I was able to escape and ran into the bathroom. I was confused," the man said. "I couldn't believe he did this, because he was a priest. I thought I must have done something wrong."

The witness alleged that Father Hanlon raped him again that day after plying him with alcohol. The next day, the witness said, when Father Hanlon made sexual advances, "I punched him in the chest and ran into the bathroom."

The man said he continued to go on ski trips to Vermont with Father Hanlon for the next several years.

In barely audible tones, the 20-year-old man said he first went to Vermont with Father Hanlon in 1990 and stayed with him in a hotel because the chalet was rented. He said Father Hanlon "got into bed with me and put his arms around me."

The priest's two sisters and nieces and nephews have been in the courtroom daily, as they were at his first trial. But this time the court is not crowded with his supporters.


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