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.