Victims of alleged sex abuse by clerics say they were ‘sacrificed’
By Kathryn Marchocki
July 26, 1992
They were given gifts their parents couldn't afford. They were taken out to "nice restaurants." And they were told they were being singled out and "God loved" them.
Then they were raped, fondled or molested by their priests, said Barbara Blaine, head of a national group of victims of alleged clerical sexual abuse at a Boston conference yesterday.
"We were told we were special in some way. We were singled out ... And we were vulnerable enough to believe that," said Blaine, chairwoman of the Chicago-based Survivors Network for those Sexually Abused by Priests.
"We feel as children we were sacrificed. We lost a lot of our innocence ... There is no way to reclaim those years," added Blaine, an abuse victim, who founded the group in 1990.
"We question why the church sometimes is more interested in protecting its own image," she said at a press conference. "We are asking the church to acknowledge the reality that this does happen."
The three-day conference being held at Boston University's School of Management through noon today is one of three held nationally to help survivors of abuse in taking the critical first step toward healing - by telling their stories.
Of the estimated 50 men and women who attended, several named priests in the Boston area and in other New England dioceses who they claim had abused them as youths, Blaine said. The accusations were made during the private sessions closed to the media. She kept the priests' names confidential. But she said they are not among those, like the former Rev. James R. Porter, who have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct.
More than 90 people have accused Porter, an ex-priest now living in Minnesota, with raping or molesting them in Minnesota, New Mexico and Massachusetts during the 1960s and 1970s.
Frank Fitzpatrick, 42, one of about 70 people who have accused Porter with assaulting them while he served in Massachusetts parishes, said some alleged victims are forming a non-profit group called Protect the Children.
Boston attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who specializes in clerical abuse cases and represents 62 of Porter's alleged victims, said religious institutions have not handled many of these cases well and must start treating it as a legal issue.
MacLeish said he and alleged Porter victims have been negotiating with the Catholic Diocese of Fall River for several weeks and hope to produce a "state of the art" civil settlement that will promote change in the church.
The conference was the first time about 15 of the 50 survivors, as they call themselves, came forward and openly told of the sexual abuse they say happened to them.
"For years, we have suffered in silence, thinking we were the only ones abused," Blaine said.