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In '67 letter, Porter writes of temptation

TAUNTON -- Former priest and convicted pedophile James Porter wrote in a 1967 letter to the bishop of Fall River that he would always be tempted to prey on children.

Porter, who pleaded guilty to child molesting in 1993, completed his sentence in January but prosecutors petitioned the court to hold him indefinitely as a sexually dangerous person.

Several letters written by Porter, part of the prosecution's case against him, were made public Friday, including one that Porter sent to Bishop James Connolly from a treatment center for pedophile priests in New Mexico.

The letter was written in November 1967, seven years before Porter was forced to leave the priesthood.

"I realize what a grind is ahead of me and that the temptation will always be there, but I am resolute that I not only have the ability with God's grace, but I do have the will and desire to control it and solve it now," Porter wrote. After leaving the priesthood, Porter, who served in the Fall River Diocese, married and settled in Minnesota.

He had four children of his own before he was charged in Massachusetts with molesting 28 children.

Porter's attorney, Michael Farrington, said that the letter was so old it was "meaningless" and that the 69-year-old Porter hasn't committed an offense in years.

"The point is, his behavior, no matter how you slice it, is still something that occurred when this guy was between 25 and 35. And now he's 70," Farrington said. "He's an old man that isn't going to act on any notions that he may have had before."

The letters from the late 1960s and early 1970s show a Porter who is contrite about his actions and claims to be trying to control his "problem."

Carol Feldman, a forensic psychologist, testified yesterday that Porter continued to talk about his "ongoing temptation" as recently as 1996, in a letter from prison to his former wife. Feldman said she believes Porter is a "high risk" offender who is likely to commit additional sex crimes if released.

Judge David McLaughlin will determine whether there is enough evidence to hold a trial on the state's request to keep Porter indefinitely at the Massachusetts Treatment Center for sexual offenders in Bridgewater.

The judge adjourned before noon yesterday. Five of Porter's victims were slated to testify for the prosecution Monday as the state completes its case.

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