Victim Speaks about Healing

By Jessica M. Smith
Roslindale - West Roxbury Transcript
February 28, 2007

It's been more than 50 years since a Lynn priest abused Virginia King. But on Monday night, King shared her story with the hope of reaching out to others who may have suffered the same fate.

King, 66, spoke at a Voice of the Faithful meeting at St. John's Chrysostom Church. VOTF is a Catholic group whose mission is to strengthen and renew the Church. The group was formed to address Church issues, including priest abuse.

At the age of 13, King recalled for an audience of about 50, a priest touched her inappropriately after he slid into an empty seat next to her in her parish's dark movie hall.

"I was frozen, terrified and in total disbelief," said King, who at the time thought she was the only victim of Father Boucher, who died in 2001.

Later, she learned from a friend, "It happened to all of us. Don't you remember trying to not have an empty seat next to you?"

According to King's younger sister, Kathleen Savage, the abuse that occurred at the now-defunct St. Jean the Baptiste in Lynn was no secret.

"There was a priest who had a big winter cape. During the winter, he always had girls under that cape. My mother warned me, 'Don't be one of those girls under that cape,'" said Savage, who applauded her sister's bravery and added that she never attended a movie without sitting close to her brother.

Other priests allegedly knew of the abuse, but did little to stop it, according to King.

"A nun brought it to [another priest's] attention, but he didn't see that side of him," said King, who believes that the Church should protect the young above all else.

"I find it objectionable that the Church would protect its image instead of protecting little children," said King.

Part of the healing, according to King, who has lived in West Roxbury for almost 40 years with her husband, Ed, is doing what she can to help others. She's been a hospice volunteer for decades and also brings communion to sick parishioners.

"I just love helping people. It helps healing," said King, who encourages others to ask for help when they need it.

"Whatever was bothering me, I reached out. The work has made me a better person," said King as she described her the spiritual journey she took to healing. She credits the combination of therapy and her faith for her recovery. Telling her story publicly has also been part of her journey.

"The reason I said yes [to speaking at VOTF] is because if I help one person, it's worth it," said King.

And while those at the meeting were not optimistic about the Church leadership changing its ways, King claimed that Catholicism is not only about abuse.

"Don't give up on the Catholic Church. See it as a church of Jesus and not as the church of abusive priests," said King.


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