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Priest leaves legacy of sexually abusing more than 100 children

The clergy sex abuse scandal involving priests in the Catholic Church is an example of how child predators will continue to abuse children until or unless they are stopped. Over the last half-century or more, many priests who had been credibly accused of child sex abuse were not arrested or defrocked. Instead, they were quietly asked to relocate, where they went on to sexually abuse more children.

The pattern is as consistent in Pennsylvania as it is around the country. Indeed, pedophile priests from other states have relocated to here and vice versa. Recently, one woman came forward to reveal that she was yet another victim of the Rev. James Porter, a now-deceased priest who had been accused of molesting more than 100 children over a period of 14 years.

The Minnesota woman has chosen to publicly identify herself, but it took decades for her to come forward. She says that Porter sexually abused her when she was a second grader at a Catholic school in 1969 and 1970. Her brother was also sexually abused by Porter, and was one of many victims who testified against him in the early 1990s.

The woman recalled that "a couple nights a week, [Porter] would bring my brother home from baseball or basketball, and he'd sit and drink coffee with my mom. Then he would play in our basement with all of us kids, and he pretty much had free reign because he was a priest."

During his short 14-year career, James Porter never stayed in any one place for very long. He served in approximately 12 locations in at least six states. He was also put into a “psychological treatment” program several times. Because this group was a religious order, however, it seems likely that knowledge of his crimes was kept under wraps.

Catholic Church officials all but forced Porter out of the priesthood in the 1970s, but none seemingly reported his child sex abuse to police. He went on to start a family, and was accused of sexually abusing his family’s 15-year-old babysitter in the late 1980s. Porter died in 2005.

Although he apparently never worked in Pennsylvania, Porter’s story is a familiar one. Just think of how many children could have been spared a lifetime of depression and trauma if church officials had been more concerned with protecting them than protecting and relocating known pedophiles.

Source: MPR News, “Woman goes public with abuse claims against notorious priest,” Matt Sepic, Sept. 24, 2014

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