'I Never Had Sex with Him'
Admitted pedophile priest denies molesting former Billerica boy

By Lisa Redmond
Lowell Sun
May 6, 2004

Cambridge - Suspended New York priest Rev. Romano Ferraro admits he is a "predator pedophile" who left a trail of sexually abused young boys in each parish he served.

Breaking his silence, Ferraro, 70, testified yesterday at his trial in Middlesex Superior Court that he molested mostly prepubescent boys in the parishes he served from New York to St. Louis and as a Navy chaplain during his 30 years as a Roman Catholic priest.

While admitting to potentially dozens of victims, Ferraro denied he ever molested a young Billerica boy more than 20 years ago.

"I never had sex with him," Ferraro testified. "I did not touch him."

Ferraro became a priest in 1960, but has been suspended from active service in New York since the late 1980s, when a separate allegation of sexual abuse arose. Before his New York assignments, Ferraro was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Navy after similar allegations.

"From the time I was 20 years old I knew I had a desire for young boys," Ferraro testified yesterday. "I felt I had an illness... a desire to be with young boys," said Ferraro, adding he had been sexually abused by a family member.

Molesting young boys was a way to "reattract" his physically abusive, alcoholic father to him. He always tried to ensure the children enjoyed the sex acts, he said. "I did it to please the children," he testified.

Ferraro stopped molesting children 15 years ago when he underwent treatment for pedophilia and began a sexaholic treatment program, he said.

But the treatment was apparently too little, too late, the former Billerica boy testified. The alleged victim, now 37 and living in New Hampshire, testified Ferraro began molesting him in the 1970s, from the age of 7 to 13. Ferraro, a close family friend, would molest the boy every time he came for his annual December visit, the alleged victim said.

He said he remained silent about the sexual assaults until 2001 because he was scared. His highly religious family revered Ferraro, a childhood friend of his father's from their Brooklyn, N.Y., days, the alleged victim testified.

The sexual 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.

That alleged victim, now 41 and still living in New York, testified he remembered being taken by Ferraro, his parish priest in New York, to a Massachusetts home when he was 11 or 12 years old and being molested there.

While no charges were sought in the New York case, Ferraro faces charges of child rape and three counts of indecent assault and battery in Middlesex County. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

But Ferraro testified he never molested the Billerica boy, saying he was one of only three children among all his victims that he didn't molest.

"There were several families that somehow I determined I would not offend. I did nothing in that house," he testified.

Billerica police Sgt. Roy Frost testified yesterday that when interviewed by police, Ferraro admitted to molesting other children, but would only admit to "slightly touching" the Billerica boy's private parts when he was sleeping.

Ferraro testified he lied to police about touching the boy. "I was frightened out of my mind," when the police came, he said. "If I confessed to something little, it was a minor matter and it would all just blow away."

While Ferraro testified he lied out of fear, prosecutor Katharine Folger noted Ferraro told selective lies. "You minimized your conduct," she told him.

The trial will resume this morning with closing arguments and then jury deliberations.

Lisa Redmond's e-mail address is .


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