Ex-Billerica Man Testifies of Alleged Abuse

By Lisa Redmond
Lowell Sun
May 5, 2004

Cambridge - The aging photograph showed a 5-year-old altar boy serving the Rev. Romano Ferraro, a beloved family friend and a Catholic priest, who would hold a "special Mass" in the living room of his childhood friend's Billerica home each time he visited.

"It was a special time," the alleged victim testified of "Father Ray's" annual visits.

"We were very Catholic, and to think someone that close to God was with us," he said.
But within two years, prosecutors say those annual visits around the boy's December birthday came with a high price: the loss of the boy's innocence.

"This is a case about vulnerability, opportunity and the betrayal of trust," prosecutor Katharine Folger told a Middlesex Superior Court jury yesterday.

The alleged victim, now 37 and living in New Hampshire, claims that from the ages of 7 to 13 [the years 1973 through 1980], he was sexually assaulted multiple times by the now-suspended New York priest.

Ferraro, 71, of New York, has pleaded innocent to a charge of child rape and three counts of indecent assault and battery. If convicted, he faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.

The alleged victim testified yesterday that the assaults occurred when Ferraro and the boy shared the boy's bed during Ferraro's visits. In one instance, Ferraro brought another boy on a visit and molested him as well, Folger alleges.

He remained silent about the sexual assaults until 2001 because he was scared and because his highly religious family held Ferraro in such high esteem, Folger said.

Ferraro will admit, defense attorney Oteri said, that while a priest from 1960 to 1990, "he did things he should not have done.


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