N.Y. Priest Convicted in Billerica Boy's Rape 20 Years Ago

By Peter Ward
Lowell Sun
May 8, 2004


Cambridge - Moments before the jury declared suspended priest Romano Ferraro guilty of raping a Billerica boy some 20 years ago, the judge asked the victim's relatives to refrain from showing emotion.

They complied, though they dabbed their eyes and clasped hands.

But after Ferraro was led out the courtroom to a Cambridge Jail cell, the six family members gathered in the hall where they hugged each other and wept tears of joy.

Wearing thick-framed glasses and a light blue jacket, Ferraro showed no emotion and said nothing as six female and six male jurors announced Ferraro guilty of child rape and guilty on three counts of indecent assault and battery against a child under 14.

They deliberated for four hours Thursday and 90 minutes yesterday.

Judge Raymond Brassard denied the defense's request to waive bail until May 20, when he returns for sentencing. Ferraro could receive a maximum life sentence, officials have said.

Ferraro emptied his pockets and removed some jewelry, then gently dumped the belongings into a white plastic bag before he was led off.

The victim's relatives declined comment, as did Assistant District Attorney Katharine Folger.

Ferraro was accused of molesting the Billerica boy numerous times during the 1970s, beginning when the victim was 6. He's 37 now and living in New Hampshire.

The statute of limitations, which precludes lodging charges six years or more after an alleged crime is committed, wasn't applicable in Ferraro's case because for many years he lived outside Massachusetts.

Ferraro became a priest in 1960 but was suspended from active service in New York in the late 1980s, when a separate allegation of sexual abuse arose.

In his testimony, Ferraro called himself a "predator pedophile" who molested boys in parishes he served in from New York to St. Louis and while working as a Navy chaplain for 30 years.

He said he never sexually molested the Billerica victim.

He also testified he stopped molesting boys 15 years ago when he entered a psychiatric program designed to treat pedophiles.

Defense attorney Joe Oteri acknowledged that with his client admitting to past sexual misconduct, the case was tough to win.

Yet, Oteri believed, it was his best chance at demonstrating his client's credibility. "He said he didn't do it, but the kid (the victim) said he did," said the lawyer.

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