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Porter Victim Went To Shanley for Solace

Feb 11, 2003 | AP

When allegations surfaced against the Rev. James Porter, one of the key figures in the church abuse scandal, a woman who says she was one of his victims turned to another priest for counseling and solace.

The man she sought out for counseling in 1992 was the Rev. Paul Shanley. A decade later, Shanley also would come under fire and the woman says she struggled with "the depth of the deception and betrayal."

Her contact with both men was detailed in a memo in one of the nine personnel files released Monday by lawyers who have sued the Boston archdiocese. There are hundreds of lawsuits pending that accuse the archdiocese of ignoring complaints against clergy, and merely shuffling accused priests from parish to parish, where they preyed upon other children.

According to the memo, dated Oct. 14, 2002, the unnamed woman was allegedly raped by Porter in 1967 at St. Patrick’s Parish in Stoneham.

The memo was written by Barbara S. Thorp, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Healing and Assistance Ministry.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, called it a "terrible situation all around. ... At the time she was sent to Father Shanley, no one knew."

Roderick MacLeish, an attorney involved in hundreds of lawsuits, did not immediately return a telephone call.

When allegations against Porter surfaced in 1992, the woman sought out Shanley, a longtime family friend, for counseling, and told Shanley about the alleged abuse by Porter.

She says Shanley told her he was aware of Porter’s problems and "tried to get the church to deal with Porter, to no avail."

The memo says she made strides but was shaken when a decade later, Shanley was indicted on charges he abused boys from 1979 to 1989 while he was a priest at a Newton church.

The woman told Thorp that her mother had been corresponding with Shanley after he moved to California.

The memo says the woman visited Shanley in prison last July. During their meeting, Shanley proclaimed his innocence.

Shanley moved to California in 1990, and church officials did not mention allegations against him when they recommended him to the San Bernardino Diocese. Shanley worked part time for that diocese from 1990 to 1993.

Shanley, who has publicly advocated sex between men and boys, was released on bail in December and has been staying in Provincetown while his case is pending.

Porter pleaded guilty in 1993 to molesting 28 children and was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison. His case led the archdiocese to establish a more stringent policy to deal with sexual abuse.


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