Patrick McSorley: A Prominent Accuser in Boston Abuse Scandal Is Found Dead

Patrick McSorley: A Prominent Accuser in Boston Abuse Scandal Is Found Dead

5718e49b8901b650430ebd1682ceac06Patric McSorley

BOSTON, Feb. 23 — Patrick McSorley was 12 when a priest named John J. Geoghan took him out for ice cream, offering comfort to a boy whose father had just committed suicide.

Instead, as Mr. McSorley described it years later, Father Geoghan molested him in his car.

Father Geoghan would become a central figure in the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the parishes of Boston. He was defrocked in 1998 and sentenced to prison in 2002 for fondling a 10-year-old boy. And Mr. McSorley would become one of the scandal’s most public accusers, appearing at news conferences, demonstrations and court hearings.

But on Monday, after years of struggling with the scars of his ordeal, Mr. McSorley, 29, was found dead in a friend’s apartment in Boston’s North End. A Police Department spokesman, David Estrada, said the cause of death would not be known until autopsy results were analyzed.

Mr. McSorley was one of the first people to come forward with accusations of abuse, telling his story in January 2002, as the scandal was erupting. He was also one of the younger men to speak publicly about his experience.

“It would usually take people at least until they were in their mid-to-late 30’s to come forward,” said Phil Saviano, founder of the New England chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “For a guy at his age to go public about that sort of experience has to take a tremendous amount of courage. I know a lot of survivors who have not had the courage to do that themselves, and someone like Patrick would have been very inspiring to them.”

By all accounts, Mr. McSorley wrestled with demons, even after Mr. Geoghan went to prison, and even after Mr. McSorley and 85 others who said they were molested by Mr. Geoghan shared a $10 million legal settlement in September 2002.

“The money’s nothing,” said William Oberle, a friend of Mr. McSorley who said he was a victim of abuse. “It doesn’t bring closure.”

Last June, Mr. McSorley was found face down and unconscious in the Neponset River after walking with a friend in Pope John Paul II Park in Boston.

Mr. McSorley recovered, and he later said that he did not know how he had ended up in the water but that he had not attempted suicide.

In July, Mr. McSorley was charged with drug possession when, the police said, they found him and some friends in a suburban motel room that contained marijuana, the painkiller fentanyl, hypodermic needles and evidence of heroin use. He pleaded not guilty.

In August, Mr. Geoghan was strangled and beaten in prison; another inmate was charged in the killing.

“I said when Geoghan died, at least he’ll never molest another child again,” Mr. Oberle said. “But he’s still molesting them. He’s still affecting these children.”

Alexa MacPherson, a friend who says she too was molested by a priest, said Mr. McSorley, who was helping to raise his 4-year-old son and his girlfriend’s younger daughter, spent time in a drug rehabilitation program last fall.

“He wanted to get clean for his son and for himself and just wanted to live a good, normal life,” Ms. MacPherson said. “For him, I think, his demons really had a hold on him, and he really didn’t know how to shake it.”

Ms. MacPherson said that appearing at news conferences had a “therapeutic value” for Mr. McSorley but that he had also tired of it and “didn’t want to be known as just a victim.”

He was still very aware of developments related to the abuse scandal, however, and his lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said that Mr. McSorley called him last Friday and requested that the two meet this week because “he was still interested in being a voice of the victims” of sexual abuse by clergy members.

Several people who said they were abused said that news related to the scandal often served as a painful reminder of what they had gone through.

“It could be anything,” Ms. MacPherson said. “You’re just walking down a street and something triggers a memory. Or a certain smell will remind me of something, and I just want to jump out of my skin. I know that Patrick went through a lot of that as well.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s