February 12, 2005

Pedophile priest Porter dead at 70

Daily News Transcript

By Ken Maguire / Associated Press
Saturday, February 12, 2005

BOSTON -- Former priest James Porter, whose widespread molestation of dozens of children foreshadowed the clergy sex abuse scandal that swept the American Roman Catholic church, died on last night.

Porter, 70, died at 6:12 p.m. at New England Medical Center in Boston, where he had been treated since being transferred from a Department of Correction medical facility on Jan. 26, department spokeswoman Diane Wiffin said. A cause of death was not immediately available, but Porter's attorney had said the former priest had incurable cancer. The hospital declined to comment.

Porter was the first high-profile case involving allegations that a priest had molested children in his parish -- and that the church had simply moved him from parish to parish to try 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 early 1990s lawsuits. "The irony is James Porter caused a lot of laws to be changed, caused a lot of people to come forward."

Porter pleaded guilty in 1993 of molesting 28 children, but once told a television reporter that he molested as many as 100 children during his time as a priest in the 1960s and early 1970s in the Fall River Diocese.

Posted by kshaw at February 12, 2005 08:19 AM