Covering up for a sex offender

Covering up for a sex offender

Is there a double standard in liberal Massachusetts regarding sex offenders? Imagine that a priest had been convicted—not just sued and settled—of sexual offenses including possession of child porn, sexual assault of a 19-year-old male, showing porn to children, and 10 counts of providing alcohol to minors. Now imagine that the priest was found to have been allowed to volunteer in a parish ministry and, further, that everyone from the parishioners to the bishop knew of his history and didn’t think it was a big deal.

What do you think would be the public reaction? The major newspapers would go into paroxysms of apoplexy. Victims’ groups would be out picketing alongside Voice of the Faithful and the usual suspects. There would be denunciations of hypocrisy and threats by government officials to conduct special investigations by blue-ribbon commissions and grand juries. Basically what many dioceses have experienced in the past five years.

Yet when a gay pride group allows a sex offender with the same record to volunteer as its chief fundraiser, critics are told that since he’s only working at 18+ events, then it’s okay.

Berggren’s history is clearly no secret in the volunteer circles in which he runs.

“He’s not really secretive about it. A lot of people know,” says Keri Aulita, vice president of the Boston Pride board. “Their competitive paper could have broken it a long time ago.”

“It is a concern, but it is a concern everybody is aware of and everybody has addressed,” says Joblin Younger, who serves on the board of directors of the Friends of the Commission on GLBT Youth and is a former member of the Boston Pride Committee. “And it’s very seriously taken into consideration what situations Bill is allowed to be in.”


Bay Windows [one of Boston’s “gay” newspapers] co-publisher Sue O’Connell recalls an incident several years ago, in which Berggren was taking photos for In Newsweekly [another “gay” paper] at a Youth Pride event (Youth Pride is a separate event that occurs the month before Boston Pride). At the time, O’Connell approached the Youth Pride committee to alert them to the issue—and, by all accounts, Berggren has not been to a youth event since. But Bay Windows (In Newsweekly’s main competitor) never reported on the incident or on Berggren’s role as a Pride volunteer.

Again, can you imagine one of the two newspapers in town not issuing a public warning or failing to give coverage to the transgression? I can’t.

Yet here we have the very same case, but because it happens within the gay community there’s not a peep from any major newspaper (this story was in a Boston alternative weekly) or from any politicians or any advocacy group. The hypocrisy is astounding.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • We had a local case here in the Bay Area, CA involving a teacher and his past “involvement” with an underage, female student. The student did not come forward until some 10-12 years later after the incidents and reported it to the local police in 2004. The police did nothing at the time because the statue of limitations had past.

    Only in 2006, did the accusation become public and the teacher put on leave/dismissed from teaching. So for two years, authorities knew of the incident yet the teacher remained in the classroom. There has been very little if any criticism in our local press of the authorities who knew about tis but did nothing for two years.

    Yes, it is a past accusation..innocent before proven guilty (and I do not know the current status of the case), though I wonder how press would play it up if our local bishop was found keeping silent about a recently reported sex case.

  • Hi folks. I’m the reporter that wrote that story for the Weekly Dig. Not that anybody couldn’t have written this story, but I’d just like to point out that both I and my editor at the Dig are gay. And as for the “parishoners” in this case—the ordinary folks just going to Pride for fun—I doubt they know much about the top brass and their decisionmaking.

    I also can’t imagine the major dailies not running with this, if they were aware of it—but I can’t speak for them.

  • Credit where credit is due; Ms Harris deserves thanks for exposing this outrage.

  • Yes, there’s a double standard, but we knew that. 

    Fact is, that the news media was so happy to trounce all over the church that they couldn’t resist the urge in 2002.  Yes, abuse happened.  It’s not that uncommon, believe it or not, across fields, but apparently that doesn’t matter to the news media.

    Problem is, it involved homosexuality, which the news media loves because the news media is against normalcy and all for novelty because it sells papers.

    So, we see the news media simultaneously trouncing the church and doing their little mincewalk.  It makes them look like they’ve got St. Vitus dance, but hey they don’t look in the mirror. It’s funny, nevertheless.  And Domenico, you are right to point it out, once again.