Tuesday, February 27, 2018

St. Vlad's professor charged with witness intimidation

BOSTON, MA (Patch) – A man whose son raped, choked and robbed a woman in her Fenway apartment in 2015 will face a charge of his own after an alleged confrontation with the victim in court this week. Joseph Purpura, an Orthodox priest who the Boston Herald identified as an associate professor at a New York seminary (St. Vlad's lists him as being on administrative leave), will be arraigned Jan. 19 on a witness intimidation charge. His son, 38-year-old Michael Purpura, of Westwood, was sentenced to 15-18 years in prison Wednesday.

The woman the younger Purpura was convicted of raping appeared at his sentencing to deliver a message of support to other survivors of sexual assault. She told the court:

"It has taken me over two years to understand and realize that I am allowed to walk home by myself on a Monday night. Everyone is allowed to go on a date, to walk home, to buy groceries, and to talk on the phone...for a while I felt like this was my fault, but that isn't the case. I didn't choose this. Everyone makes their own choices, and Michael Purpura's choices were not my own, and I'm finally accepting that his choices were not my fault.
I don't regret coming forward as I hope it will bring me closure and, more importantly, I hope this will prevent other people from being treated the way that I was treated on the 15th of September, 2015, because, honestly, no one deserves that. I hope this has helped others, and I hope that people know they are not alone. You'd be surprised about who is here to support you, myself included. I want to end this statement by thanking the ADAs, victim witness advocate, judge, and jury. You have helped shed a small amount of light and hope on the worst thing that has ever happened to me, and I am forever grateful."

Michael Purpura was found guilty in December of aggravated rape, indecent assault and battery, strangulation or suffocation, unarmed burglary and larceny over $250. Prosecutors said Purpura followed a woman in her 20s home from Star Market on Kilmarnock Street on the night of Sept. 14, 2015 and "ambushed" her as she stepped into her apartment.

He assaulted her into the following morning, forced her to shower and stole her phone, according to the DA.

Purpura turned himself in to police five days later after investigators used customer records and surveillance video from Star Market to obtain a warrant for his arrest. A DNA sample from Purpura was then linked to evidence from the sexual assault.

"The evidence here was chilling," Conley said after Purpura was found guilty. "The attack was terrifying and the community is safer with the perpetrator behind bars. I'd like to commend the prosecutors and police detectives who built the case step by step, from witnesses to video footage to DNA, but we would never have reached this point without the survivor, whose testimony was so critical to this verdict."

Jurors deliberated for about a day before convicting him of all charges, the Suffolk DA said.


  1. Horrifying story. Beyond the fact that he's been charged, though, it doesn't say anything about Fr Purpura's involvement. Frustrating.

  2. "Man faces witness-intimidation charge after allegedly yelling at woman his son had just been sentenced for choking, raping and robbing

    By adamg on Thu, 01/11/2018 - 1:22pm

    A man who watched his son get sentenced yesterday to up to 18 years in prison for following a woman home from the Fenway Star Market and raping her now faces a criminal charge of his own after he allegedly began yelling at the victim in "a hostile verbal confrontation" in the courtroom, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.

    (Fr.) Joseph Purpura is scheduled for arraignment on Jan. 19 on a charge of witness intimidation, the DA's office reports.

    Both the elder Purpura and the victim were in court to watch a Suffolk Superior Court judge sentence Purpura after a jury last month convicted him of aggravated rape, indecent assault and battery, strangulation or suffocation, unarmed burglary and larceny over $250."


    More here but it is archived: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2018/01/priest_charged_in_victim_tirade

  3. He won't be involved in youth ministry again without controlling his temper.

    Very Reverend Joseph F. Purpura, DMin.
    The Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, Fr. Joseph Purpura has been training adult youth directors since the late 1980s for the North American Archdiocese of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, creating and implementing youth training programs across the United States and Canada.
    Fr. Joseph has held numerous appointments over the past 30 years, including: Chairman of the Pastoral Advisory Council of St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Bridgeport, CT, Chairman of the Francis Maria Foundation for Justice and Peace, Director of Campus Ministry, and Antiochian Village Camp Director.
    Moral and Ethical Issues Confronting Orthodox Youth
    Raising Children in the Church
    Keeping Children in the Church
    Relational Ministry — a model for Youth Ministry
    Equipping teens to make good decisions
    Fr. Joseph is also available to do youth ministry consulting for parishes and dioceses to help them improve, maintain, or start a youth ministry program — parish or diocese wide.

  4. How about he goes off into the sunset never to be heard of again. Paul had some instructions for Timothy on who should be a leader and a good reputation was one of them. But churches and church leaders have a way of justifying all kinds of behavior.

    1. I wasn't there of course, but I can't imagine how I would react if my son were about to go away for two decades. Tough situation.

    2. His son committed a heinous crime. As much as that must bring him sorrow and pain, it does not justify behaving in such an un-Christian and un-civil manner. Additionally, as a priest he is held to a higher standard of behavior. The "human card" doesn't apply.

    3. "...The "human card" doesn't apply..."

      Oh, in that case then Christ came (taking on human flesh and nature) in vain. Even Peter (who directly experienced Him) denied the Lord.

      No, the "human card" not only is applicable, it is the only thing that applies...

  5. I've spoken to a priest and a bishop who were there in the courtroom supporting Fr. Joseph during this difficult time. They both confirm that it didn't play out the way the media is making it sound. He simply made a comment to the investigator in a conversational tone while in the courtroom. The DA wanted the baliffs to arrest him on the spot, but they wouldn't do it, so the DA had to do it. Fr. Joseph faced 2 charges. One has already been thrown out, and the second one is likely to be dismissed as well (it may already have been.) What his family needs now are prayers.

  6. Michael, what was the "comment made to the investigator in a conversational tone"?

  7. The DA does not go after people for the sake of going after people. In California you can be caught on camera stealing and they won't prosecute. You can steal a car have it found in your driveway and they won't prosecute. You can brake into a home be found in the home and they won't arrest let alone prosecute. So it must be more than the just a conversational comment.

    1. "The DA does not go after people for the sake of going after people."

      On the contrary, that is exactly what a DA does - it is the very essence of the job description. Ours is an "adversarial" justices system, not a "scientific" (or some other kind) where the object is the truth. In an adversarial system the goal is rather to win. The idealization and justification is that through this process of "winning the debate" the truth comes to be known, but this is just the ideal. In practice, the common perception captured in the phrase "the Broken Justice System" reveals what we all know and feel - that more often than not, someone "wins" and someone "loses", and the truth is still unknown. Indeed, the very examples you cite speak to this.

    2. The DA is not going to go after him unless he did something and well it looks like he did...

  8. The victim Claire Hadfield said that "After I delivered my statement, my rapist's father yelled at me and was arrested in court for witness intimidation." https://inkphy.com/media/Bd20qPvBFGl