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Intimate Moments in the Healing Professions

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 20, 2003

Father Donald Turlick, the priest who helped spring alleged murderer Paul Nolin, had his own ideas of professional boundaries:

Two former workers at the sex offender treatment center where Paul Nolin was incarcerated for 12 years said investigators recently asked them for details of Nolin's relationship with the Rev. Donald A. Turlick, a licensed psychologist who was Nolin's therapist at the center.

Paula Erickson, a former counselor at the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous in Bridgewater, said she told investigators that Turlick brought in contraband for Nolin, including condoms, silk pajamas, and gold chains, and that it was well known in the facility that Nolin and Turlick were "an item."

A former guard at the facility, who asked not to be named, said he told investigators about an incident involving Turlick and Nolin. He said he once found them together in a treatment room in what seemed to be an intimate moment. Although they were not engaged in a sexual act, the guard said he was concerned enough to notify his supervisor.

Turlick's priesthood apart, his behavior as a psychologist is grotesquely contrary to everything we've been taught is sacrosanct about the therapist-client relationship, and Turlick's supervisors and colleagues deserve contempt for tolerating his sexual poaching. This degree of immunity from discipline points to the same kind of criminal networking that often operates behind sexual abuse in church settings.

And, amazingly, Turlick is still a priest "in good standing" for the Bridgeport Diocese, from which he has been on a leave since 1970, though maintaining contact with at least one other priest on the Cape, Fall River's Bernard Kelly. Any attempts to answer the obvious question -- does the network in this case extend beyond the two priests who happen to have fallen afoul of the law? -- will certainly be met by outraged cries of witch-hunting and scapegoating gays. Most bishops will back down instantly at first squeak of protest. But we won't get the answers we need to cut out the rot until a man comes along who fears God more than a foiled career.

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