By Erin Smith
August 3, 2006
If Blessed Sacrament parishioners had known their spiritual father and convicted pedophile had confessed his guilt to another priest, they might not have begged the court for leniency.
A judge sentenced former Cambridge priest Paul Hurley to four years in prison last week for raping a teenage boy at the former Blessed Sacrament church in the 1980s.
Judge Hiller Zobel delayed sentencing for two days after prosecutors submitted an affidavit from a fellow priest, Rev. Charles Higgins, who claimed that Hurley admitted to him in November 2001 that he sexually assaulted the victim.
Zobel agreed to consider Higgins' statement in imposing sentencing, citing that the tone of the some of the letters in support of Hurley might have been different if they had known about his alleged confession.
More than 50 Hurley supporters had written letters to the judge, pleading for leniency during sentencing. One letter called Hurley's conviction a "crucifixion by the press," according to prosecutors.
Hurley, the former priest at the Central Square church, was also given five years probation and must register as a sex offender following his release. During probation, Hurley is not allowed to contact his victim; may not have any unsupervised contact with children under 16; and must submit to random drug and alcohol tests.
In June, a jury found Hurley, 62, of Sandwich, guilty of two counts of child rape after deliberating for only about an hour.
Prior to sentencing, Hurley's victim, now a 33-year-old Everett man, told the judge that Hurley was a predator who "snatches innocence" from young children.
"As a result of the abuse I suffered, I am very distrusting of everyone," said the victim, noting that he hadn't told any of his friends or family that he went to the trial.
The Chronicle does not identify victims of rape and sexual abuse.
During the trial, the victim testified that Hurley began orally raping him when he was 12 years old at St. Peter and Paul's Church in South Boston.
According to the victim's court testimony, the abuse continued for the next four years at the South Boston church, the Blessed Sacrament rectory, where Hurley was transferred in the late 1987, and on summer trips to Cape Cod that Hurley would organize for several boys.
During the trial, the victim testified that Hurley would invite him to the Blessed Sacrament church rectory at least once a week for sex-for-money abuses until he was 16.
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.
The Archdiocese of Boston put Hurley on administrative leave shortly after the sexual abuse allegations surfaced against Hurley in 2001. The Archdiocese said any defrocking, or stripping of priestly authority, would be taken up by the Vatican.
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