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January 29, 2005

Wife of accuser testifies in ex-priest's abuse trial

Jan. 29, 2005 [Associated Press]

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The wife of a man who has accused defrocked priest Paul Shanley of raping him as a child testified Friday that he had night sweats and curled up in the fetal position on the floor after recovering memories of the abuse.

The woman took the witness stand after her husband finished more than 10 hours of testimony over three days, much of it under grueling and graphic cross-examination by Shanley's attorney.

The man returned to the stand Friday morning despite begging the judge a day earlier to spare him further questioning. That had raised the possibility that the case would collapse, because he is the lone accuser of Shanley, 74, one of the central figures in the Boston Archdiocese's clergy sex-abuse scandal. Three other accusers were dropped from the case by prosecutors.

The accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter, says Shanley raped and molested him at a Newton parish beginning when he was 6. He says he didn't remember the abuse until early 2002, when he heard a friend's account of being abused as a boy by Shanley.

His wife testified that he became distraught during a phone conversation when she told him about a newspaper article in which the friend told of the alleged abuse. She was living near Boston at the time, and her then-boyfriend was serving at an Air Force base in Colorado.

"He said he was going to be sick, he had to go, he couldn't talk," she said.

She said he returned to Massachusetts four days later. On the first night of his visit, she said, he became upset again.

"He woke up. He was very agitated and restless. He had soaked the sheets with sweat," she said, her voice cracking. "He got on the floor, curled up in a ball. He shook."

"I tried to hold him, but he wouldn't let me," she said.

Earlier, Shanley's attorney Frank Mondano grilled the accuser about his troubled childhood, his abuse of alcohol and steroids, his gambling habit and his motivation for coming forward.

Mondano has said that the man made up his story to cash in on the multimillion-dollar settlements to victims of the Boston scandal. He has also said he will call expert witnesses to debunk the science behind repressed memories.

The trial is expected to resume Monday.

Posted by Nancy at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

Fighting Child Sexual Abuse

January 29, 2005 [The Winchester Star] By Kevin Killen

Education is the key to combating sexual abuse among children, officials said during a recent meeting of the Community Safety and Services Committee.

The committee is chaired by Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney Alexander R. Iden.

Investigator Andrew Vipperman gave the committee his insight into sexual abuse against children.

Vipperman, who does a majority of the interviews of sexual abuse allegations for the police department, said the community has a lot of resources to use to battle the problem.

“The police, courts, and social services, have been great helping battle this crime,” Vipperman said.

He said it is really tough to have to talk to a child about being abused, and also said many children usually disclose their abuse in a variety of ways.

Oftentimes, abuse never gets reported because the child has fear, feels guilty for what happened, and is afraid of the punishment from the family, Vipperman said.

One of the best ways Vipperman said to help children talk about the abuse is let them talk about it any way they can.

“If it’s a picture, let them draw it. If it’s something else that symbolizes the act, let them tell it,” he said.

Vipperman said once the alleged abuse is revealed, the long process of healing and helping can begin.

But, because those channels can reach so many people before the courts get a case, that can make the process arduous for the victim and the family.

Prosecuting accused offenders of child sexual abuse is not always a win, said Iden, who has prosecuted abuse cases in his nearly four years as Commonwealth’s Attorney.

He said it is not easy prosecuting an alleged abuse case, and juries are never a guarantee.

“Sometimes, people do not want to believe this happens, but it does,” Iden said. “But education and help from the resources we have can inform people there is a problem.”

Posted by Nancy at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)