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The Rev. James Porter was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison in 1993 for sexually abusing 28 children in the Fall River Diocese.
(Globe Staff Photo / Wendy Maeda)
The Boston area's first predator priest case
The Rev. James R. Porter abused some 100 young boys and girls at parishes in North Attleborough, New Bedford and Fall River in the 1960s. In December 1993, Porter was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison in a case that shocked Catholics in the Diocese of Fall River and the neighboring Boston Archdiocese. At the time, Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law called Porter an "aberrant" and blasted the media over their intense scrutiny of the case. But the scandal prompted the Boston Archdiocese to enact a new sexual abuse policy which church leaders said would prevent future acts of molestation.
James Porter's career
1952 Graduates from Boston College High School
1956 Earns bachelor's degree in mathematics from Boston College.
1960 Ordained as priest after graduating from Baltimore seminary and assigned to St. Mary's Church, North Attleboro.
1963 After complaints from parents, is assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Fall River.
1965 Following further complaints, is assigned to St. James Parish in New Bedford.
1967 Left New Bedford and enters a church-run treatment program operated by the Order of the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.
1969 Assigned to St. Philip's Catholic Church in Bemidji, Minn., after receiving treatment in a church halfway house in Nevis, Minn.
1970 Dismissed from St. Philip's after new allegation of sexual abuse and moves to nearby small town in Minnesota, begins work as a bank teller and receives private therapy.
1971 Enters Paraclete treatment center in St. Louis and decides to leave the priesthood.
1971 Moves to Maplewood, Minn., and works in nearby bank.
1974 Is officially terminated as a priest.
1976 Marries Verlyne Kay Bartlett, 23, in St. Paul; first of four children is born; quits bank job and becomes a "house husband."
1982-1991 Tutors math at the Transfiguration Catholic School, Maplewood.
1990 Frank Fitzpatrick, a Rhode Island private investigator who had been an altar boy under Porter, confronts the former priest on the telephone about alleged sexual abuse; Fitzpatrick takes out advertisments in New England newspapers seeking other alleged victims of Porter's abuse.
May 8, 1992 WBZ-TV of Boston reports Porter's alleged history of sexually abusing children. In a taped interview, Porter tells the TV station of abusing 50 to 100 children. In the weeks to come, more than 60 alleged victims give accounts of abuse to Boston news media or law enforcement officials.
May 22 Authorities from Boston and Oakdale, Minn., interview Porter for more than two hours, but no charges are filed. Oakdale police say two women reported being abused by Porter 10 or more years earlier in Oakdale. A man surfaces later, telling Oakdale police a similar story of abuse by Porter.
June 7 A notice in St. Philip's Parish bulletin urges anyone who was a victim of Porter's alleged abuse in Bemidji to come forward.
July 11 St. Philip's issues another announcement, this time in a press release, urging alleged victims to come forward.
July 14 As seven alleged victims file suit against him in Minnesota, Porter releases statement contending he has not sexually abused children since he left the priesthood in 1974.
In the Catholic Church's largest sexual abuse settlement to date, 68 alleged Porter victims drop their lawsuit against the Fall River Diocese in exchange for at least $5 million.
October 4, 1993
Porter pleads guilty to sexually assaulting 28 young Catholics in parishes in southeastern Massachusetts in the 1960s.
Porter is sentenced to 18 to 20 years in maximum-security prison
Interview, news media reports