Roman Catholic priest Reverend Richard McCormick, who once headed the religious order Salesian Society in North America, was recently sentenced for eight to ten years after he raped a minor repeatedly at the Ipswich summer camp more than three decades ago. On November 26, the 73-year-old reverend was found guilty of five counts of child rape that took place on the grounds of the former Sacred Heart Retreat during the 1980s.
While delivering the verdict, Lawrence Superior Court Judge Mary Lou Rup said the victim’s testimony proves that the effects of McCormick’s abuse are permanent. Apparently, she considered McCormick’s advanced age while sentencing him, saying she trusts the Department of Corrections with knowing how to treat aging inmates.
Rup also said lawyers and judges always hope that victims of child sex abuse can recover completely and move forward in life but this particular victim’s testimony belies that assumption.
“McCormick preyed on and exploited the vulnerability of a young boy who was in his care, leaving the boy with lifelong scars,” said Rup.
The victim, who is now 44-years-old, broke down in tears as he recollected being taken to McCormick’s office and storage closet during two consecutive summers in 1981 and 1982, where he was sexually abused by the priest.
Speaking to the press outside the court, he said, “McCormick has to own it now. It’s his now. The only thing that matters now is he can’t do it to any more children.”
Throughout the proceedings, McCormick sat in court with his head bowed low, expressing little or no reaction when the verdict was delivered. He was earlier held at Middleton jail but will now be taken to the state prison in Walpole where his sentence will be followed by a ten-year probation period. McCormick is yet to receive the verdict in a case involving a second accuser, who decided to lodge a complaint after news reports of the priest being arrested surfaced in 2012.
Defense lawyer Stephen Neyman told Rup that the priest is now a broken man, since he has been banished by his order and is currently at a facility outside St Louis in Missouri, along with other priests who have been accused of misconduct or were involved in cases of child sex abuse. Neyman also requested Rup to sentence his client for two years, saying McCormick had already served at the Vianney Renewal Center while out on bail.
But prosecutor Kate MacDougall insisted on a longer jail term of 12 to 15 years, citing McCormick’s actions as an extraordinary breach of a sacred trust.
“This defendant intentionally singled out this child, took this child away from other children and took advantage of his position, and not only did so but did so under the guise of faith and of God,” she said.
Ever since his abuse, the victim claims to have lost all faith in religion. He went on to describe how he cried after his son was born, fearing he would not be able to protect his baby from perverts like McCormick.
This particular case is one of the oldest child sex abuse scandals to be prosecuted in the state of Massachusetts, since a recent change was made to the statute of limitations that allows victims of such abuse more time to lodge complaints, even after they become adults. Reportedly, there are 16 pending lawsuits against McCormick, all of which allege he sexually abused young boys during the 1980s.
Photo Credits: Catholic News USA