(NECN: Jennifer Eagan, Salem, Mass.) - Rev. Richard McCormick pleaded not guilty to five counts of rape of a child Friday. The 71-year-old ran a summer camp for children from the Boston area in Ipswich, Mass. back in the early 1980s.
McCormick is accused of singling out a boy when the boy was 10 years old and sexually assaulting him. Prosecutors say the alleged abuse happened in 1981 and 1982. Prosecutor Kate MacDougall says the victim claims Rev. McCormick would sometimes get him from his bed in the camp dorms. The victim told investigators the abuse only stopped when he resorted to hiding in the woods at night or hiding under his older brother's bunk.
Rev. McCormick belongs to the Salesians of Don Bosco, a Roman Catholic religious order with a mission of caring for poor children. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian represents the man McCormick allegedly abused as a child. While this is the first time Rev. McCormick has been charged criminally, he has been sued by nine other people who claim they were molested by the priest when they were children. "The significance of this case is that from 1986 to 1991 he was the provincial leader of Don Bosco. He was their leader. He was the one who gave thousands of individuals direction under his tutelage," Garabedian said.
A vice provincial from the order came to the Salem Superior Courthouse Friday as a show of support. "It's like family and when family is in trouble you try and stay behind them as best you can, but at the same time without undermining or denigrating the hurt of other parties involved," Rev. Steve Dumais said.
Rev. McCormick has been released on $1,000 cash bail. He is allowed to return to the Salesian headquarters in New Rochelle, New York, where he remains an active member of the order. Rev. Dumais was ordered by the judge to be Rev. McCormick's custodian. Rev. Dumais is charged with making sure Rev. McCormick is supervised at all times and returns to his next court appearance on October 23.