More hearings will be scheduled as judge ponders fate of list
As the Times reported Thursday, "Jane Doe 4," a Bemidji woman who says she was sexually abused by deceased Father James Porter from 1969 to 1970, had her hearing begin Wednesday afternoon in Polk County District Court in Crookston. Her attorneys submitted her request for monetary damages and that a private list be released that contains names of priests accused of sexual abuse.
The original complaint filed by St. Paul Attorney, Jeff Anderson, for Jane Doe 4 was received in Polk County on June 20, 2013, and it details the life of Father James Porter.
Porter was born January 2, 1935 in Revere, Mass. He grew up devoted to the Catholic Church, which led to his choice of becoming a priest. "The dark side of his personality was well hidden from family and friends," says Michael Newton of the Crime Library of Tru TV. No one knows when exactly he first began molesting children, but his first known victim was a 12 year old boy at church camp in 1953, the summer before Porter started at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. Michael Newton went on to say, "Between 1956 and 1960, working summers at church-run Cathedral Camp in East Freetown, Massachusetts, Porter molested more victims (including one boy who later became an FBI agent). In 1958, a year before his ordination, he fondled a sixth grader whom he was driving home from a sporting event."
Porter was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1960 by the Fall River Diocese in Massachusetts after receiving training at the St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. He took a vow of obedience to the Bishop of Defendant Fall River Diocese, the Most Reverend James L. Connelly and his successors.
He was appointed as an associate pastor at the St. Mary's Parish and Parochial School in Attleborough, Massachusetts. His responsibility was to perform masses, hearing confessions, granting absolution, training, supervising and providing recreational outings for altar boys, teaching at the parochial school and providing spiritual instruction and counseling to parishoners and students.
"While employed at St. Mary's Parish from 1960 through 1963, James Porter systematically sexually molested dozens of young parish children and students entrusted to his care," says the complaint. The sexual molestation occurred at numerous places including the church premises, the rectory, the school, the victim's homes, and while the children were in his care. During this time, Porter's supervising pastor was Pastor Edward Booth. Booth witnessed Porter's sexual molestation of at least one parish child in the church rectory office. The complaint says, "Pastor Booth did not assist this young victim, did not take reasonable steps to end the abuse nor did he report James Porter's criminal sexual misconduct to local law enforcement authorities. Rather, Pastor Booth shook his head, and walked out of the office without saying a word."
In the spring of 1963, a mother of a 12 year old altar boy reported to Pastor Booth and Father Armando A. Annunziato that James Porter had molested little boys and demanded he be removed. According to complaint, Reverend Booth told the mother that Porter was receiving treatment for his problem and there was "no need to remove him from the church." Booth also said, "what are you trying to do, crucify the man?"
Father Annunziato also served as an associate pastor at St. Mary's Parish and directly witnessed Porter sexually molesting parish and/or school children on the church premises, the complaint states. He, like Booth, turned the other way and once told a parish child who complained that he had been sexually molested to "stop stirring up trouble," the complaint states. Annunziato also responded to at least one parent about the molesting saying, "you have to understand that Father Porter is only human."
In 1963, Porter was removed from St. Mary's Parish and transferred to the Sacred Heart Parish in Fall River, Massachusetts. He was appointed an associate pastor again and given the same duties. From 1963 to 1965, according to the complaint, Porter continued to sexually molest youth of the parish. The defendant, Fall River Diocese, was informed of this molestation in 1965. Instead of reporting the incidents to local law enforcement authorities, they transferred him to St. James Parish in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Porter was also said to have received psychiatric treatment for his compulsive sexual molestation of youth at St. Luke's Hospital while in New Bedford. "During his tenure from 1965 to 1967, James Porter continued to systematically sexually molest youth in New Bedford, Massachusetts," says the complaint.
In 1967, Fall River Diocese transferred James Porter to the facilities in New Mexico run by Defendant Servants of the Paraclete. Rather than report Porter's crimes to authorities, the Paraclete encouraged him to return to Roman Catholic parishes.
In August 1969, Porter traveled to Minnesota to serve as an extern priest in the Crookston Diocese. At that time, the Bishop was Laurence A. Glenn. Bishop Glenn granted James Porter full faculties to operate as a Roman Catholic priest in Crookston Diocese and Porter was appointed an associate pastor of St. Philip in Bemidji, Minnesota. During his time at St. Philip, Porter, again, abused numerous parish children, the complaint state.
The victim, Jane Doe 4, was a 3rd and 4th grade student at St. Philip Parochial School in Bemidji. She came to know and trust James Porter as her parish priest. During this time, Porter is said to have sexually abused her on the parish school's property and in her home while Porter visited the family. After complaints were filed, Porter was removed from the school and transferred to Hastings, Minn. for psychological treatment.
In 1972 or 1973, Porter returned to the facilities of Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico. He was then transferred to St. Edwin Church in Albuquerque to perform part-time parish work. Again, he sexually molested minor parish youth while on assignment, according to the complaint.
Porter, in a 1974 letter to the Pope, admitted to abusing over 100 children in the parishes he served and while in treatment for his inability to control his actions toward both boys and girls. Porter requested to be released from his pastoral responsiblities. His request was granted and he went on to marry and have children. He was convicted of molesting a babysitter in 1992 and died in a maximum security prison in 2005.