Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rape witch hunt causes innocent priest to die a broken man

In 2006, lawyer Mitchell Garabedian lodged a claim against the Rev. Charles Murphy that he improperly touched a female minor 25 years earlier.  Father Murphy swore his innocence, the archdiocese ruled the allegations lacked substance, and the woman dropped her suit on the eve of trial.

According to Brian McGrory of the Boston Globe: "When Murphy triumphantly returned to the pulpit of his sun-splashed church in South Weymouth, the applause could be heard across the South Shore. Father Charlie, as he was known, was back — back cracking cornball jokes from the altar, back as a fanatical hockey fan, back as the mad plow driver clearing the parking lot at the hint of snow. He was also back ministering in prisons and helping the deaf, a man of the cloth to his core."

As if he had not done enough harm, in April 2010, lawyer Garabedian, who had lodged the first complaint, brought another. Only this time, the accusation was not about a 25 year old alleged assualt, it was about a 40 year old alleged assault. And this time, the alleged victim wasn't female, he was male.

Put aside the absurdity and injustice of asking a presumptively innocent man to defend himself against 40-year-old charges (all evidence of alibi -- "I was somewhere else that day" -- would have long disappeared), does it seem not just bizarre but other-worldly that an attorney would first accuse this priest of long ago abusing a female and then, when that didn't work, a male?

Father Murphy was forced to cancel a long-planned party celebrating his 50th anniversary as a priest and he started a downward spiral that would eventually kill him.

It took the diocense almost six months to dismiss the charges.  Brian McGrory says that's about five months too long. But Father Murphy's supporters knew the truth: ". . . prominent friends and everyday parishioners who refused to give up their faith. They hired a lawyer, who in turn brought in a private investigator, who discovered that the alleged victim was mired in financial problems, had a long list of liens placed against him, and faced massive credibility issues even within his own family."

By the time the diocese restored Father Murphy, he was finished. ". . . when Murphy reappeared at St. Francis Xavier in South Weymouth to say Mass, he couldn’t summon the strength to deliver a sermon."

Brian McGrory: "They brought Murphy to a hospice in Haverhill a couple of weeks ago after doctors determined there was nothing left to be done. There was no cancer, no apparent physical disease, just a broken 77-year-old heart that refused to mend."

"And that’s where he died Saturday evening, a wisp of the man he once was. Garabedian lost his compass on this case, and thousands of people all over Massachusetts lost a truly wonderful priest."

We commend Mr. McGrory for a well-written piece. But the irony seems lost on Mr. McGrory about his own paper's role in harming this good priest. How? By doing what, I am sure, it would claim was just it's job. It reported the following on April 3, 2010:  "The man's attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, said the abuse happened when Murphy was at St. Agatha Parish in Milton in the early 1970s. Garabedian said Murphy abused his client over the course of a year, starting when his client was 14, in places including the church rectory. Garabedian said his client, now 53, hoped the church was closely monitoring Murphy."  See here

Yes, the Globe was just doing what every newspaper does. They destroy innocent men by reporting sex accusations. The general public doesn't understand that an accusation is just that -- an accusation. All they see is that yet another priest is accused of fondling yet another boy, and their reaction is, "Castrate him!"  In the court of last resort -- the breakfast table where Mr. and Mrs. Average Bostonian read the Globe -- the trial against Father Murphy was over even before it had begun.

And then the truth finally came out -- but not before an innocent man was destroyed. Then it's very easy to blame the false accuser, the lawyer who lodged the charge, the diocese for investigating too slowly . . . you name it, everyone except the paper that was "just doing its job" by repeating an unfounded accusation even though the man accused was not able even to defend himself in the press.

If Mr. McGrory wants to know what caused Father McGrory to die of a broken heart, he need look no further than the Boston Globe's glass house.

See here: