February 11, 2005

Convicted pedophile priest James Porter dies at 70

Pioneer Press

Associated Press

BOSTON - Former priest James Porter, whose widespread molestation of dozens of children from Massachusetts to Minnesota and beyond foreshadowed the clergy sex abuse scandal that swept the Roman Catholic church, died Friday.

Porter, 70, died at New England Medical Center in Boston, where he had been treated since being transferred from a Department of Correction medical facility last month, department spokeswoman Diane Wiffin said. A cause of death was not immediately available. Porter's attorney had said he had incurable cancer.

Porter's case was the first high-profile one involving allegations that a priest had molested children in his parish - and that the church had simply moved him from parish to parish to avoid scandal.

"Father Porter came to symbolize the start of an era when people could talk about priest abuse," said attorney Roderick MacLeish, who represented 101 Porter victims in lawsuits in the early 1990s. "The irony is James Porter caused a lot of laws to be changed, caused a lot of people to come forward."

Posted by kshaw at February 11, 2005 09:58 PM