Cambridge priest guilty of child rape

Cambridge Chronicle/June 29, 2006
By Erin Smith

At the age of 12, the boy from the South Boston housing projects went to Father Paul Hurley’s rectory apartment at St. Peter and Paul’s Church to drink beer with five or six of his friends. When he began to feel tired and nod off, Hurley offered him his bed. That’s when the former Cambridge priest followed him into the bedroom and orally raped him, said the soft-spoken victim, who is now 33 years old.

The Chronicle does not identify victims of rape and sexual abuse.

According to the victim’s court testimony, the abuse would continue for the next four years as Hurley would pick him up in the projects and bring him to the South Boston church. The abuse continued at the rectory of Blessed Sacrament in Central Square, where Hurley was transferred in the late 1980s, and even on summer trips to Cape Cod that Hurley would organize for several boys.

"I didn’t want to tell anyone. How do you tell someone?" said the Everett man, who frequently paused in his testimony while recounting the abuse.

This week, he was finally able to tell his story to a jury, which found Hurley, 62, of Sandwich, guilty of two counts of child rape.

The opening arguments in the case started Monday morning. By Tuesday afternoon, the jury had returned a guilty verdict after deliberating for a little more than one hour.

Hurley’s defense attorney, James Coviello, unsuccessfully tried to argue Hurley’s innocence, citing that no one else had witnessed the abuse.

During the trial, the victim testified that Hurley invited him to visit Blessed Sacrament after the priest was transferred to the Central Square church in 1987.

During their first encounter in the Cambridge church rectory, Hurley stripped naked and sat at his desk, masturbating and offered the then 15-year-old victim about $100 for oral sex, the victim said. The victim told the court that he used the money for his drug habit. Hurley would call the victim to visit Cambridge for the sex-for-money abuses at least once a week, the victim said. Later, when the victim turned 16, he stopped returning Hurley’s calls but never told anyone about the abuse, he said.

The victim, who has a long history of arrests, finally told a prison psychiatrist about the abuse while serving a sentence for armed robbery in Pennsylvania in 2001.

Prosecutors presented a ledger sheet at trial that showed Hurley paid $1,000 in traveler’s checks to bail out the victim after he was arrested in 1988. Hurley then took the victim back to the rectory to rape him, the victim said.

After the guilty verdict was read, Judge Hiller Zobel revoked Hurley’s bail and immediately imposed a provisional three-year prison sentence. Hurley is due back in court on July 27 for formal sentencing. He faces up to life in prison.

The Archdiocese of Boston put Hurley on administrative leave shortly after the sexual abuse allegations surfaced against Hurley in 2001.

"The trial and conviction of Fr. Paul W. Hurley serves as a painful reminder of the harm and suffering survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their loved ones have endured," said a statement issued by the Boston Archdiocese. "Cardinal Sean [O’Malley] again apologizes to survivors and all who have suffered as a result of the sexual crimes perpetrated against children by priests."

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