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Convicted rapist admits assaulting another boy

Priest admits sexually assaulting boy at Ipswich summer camp in the 1980s

Judge Timothy Feeley addressed ex-priest Richard McCormick in Salem Superior Court.
Judge Timothy Feeley addressed ex-priest Richard McCormick in Salem Superior Court.Faith Ninivaggi/Pool

SALEM — A former Roman Catholic priest, convicted last fall of repeatedly raping a boy at an Ipswich summer camp in the early 1980s, pleaded guilty Monday to indecently assaulting another boy during the same period.

“Guilty,” Richard McCormick, 74, said in a hoarse whisper, his voice barely audible. He was sentenced to spend at least eight years in state prison, a term that will be served concurrently with his existing 8-to-10 year sentence.

McCormick sexually abused the boy at various points between 1981 and 1983, often following him into a bathroom, Essex prosecutors said. The boy was 6 years old when he began attending the camp, held at the Salesian Brothers’ Sacred Heart retreat center in Ipswich, which is now closed.

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When McCormick was charged with five counts of rape in 2012, the victim recognized his picture as the man who had assaulted him when he was a boy.

“Over the years, he never forgot what happened to him,” prosecutor Kate MacDougall told the court.

MacDougall read the man’s impact statement, which described the devastating, long-term effect of McCormick’s abuse, a lifetime of substance abuse and profound anxiety.

“In the recent years through counseling and therapy I am learning that much of the force behind my thinking and actions is directly related — even subconsciously — to the abuse that I suffered at the hands of Richard McCormick,” he wrote.

The man, now 40, said he has lived a “lifetime of nightmares” and suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. He said he had distrusted authority figures his entire life, and to this day cannot use a public restroom unless it is empty.

As a boy, he felt he was “bad” for allowing the abuse to happen, and for not telling his mother. He became increasingly troubled, and from the age of 14 he was in and out of juvenile facilities “probably over twenty times.”

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“I have fought a substance abuse issue since I was approximately 16,” he wrote. “Could never keep employment longer than a couple weeks or months and was in and out of county jails and state prisons throughout my entire adult life.”

He still felt guilty for never telling his late mother what happened, and for explaining why he “turned into such an uncontrollable child.”

“That guilt eats at me daily, and probably will forever,” he wrote. The man wrote that he was comfortable with the sentence because McCormick was “finally admitting guilt.” It would bring some type of closure, he wrote, to “30 years of an awful life I’ve lived.”

He said he sees a therapist almost weekly and is on a path that “I’ve dreamed of for many years.”

Before he was charged criminally in 2012, McCormick had already been sued by nine people who alleged that he sexually molested them as boys. In this case, prosecutors reduced the charge against McCormick from child rape to indecent assault after he waived his right to assert the statute of limitations.

McCormick showed little emotion during the hearing and often looked down as the judge asked him questions. After the prosecutor read the man’s impact statement, McCormick was asked whether he had anything to say. “No, sir,” he replied.


Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.