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February 07, 2005

Former priest convicted of abuse

February 7, 2005 [Associated Press]

A man who testified he was a sex-abuse victim of defrocked priest Paul Shanley broke down Monday in a Cambridge, Mass., courtroom after the former priest was convicted of child rape and indecent assault.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Defrocked priest Paul Shanley was convicted Monday of repeatedly raping and fondling a boy at his Roman Catholic church during the 1980s.

The conviction on all four charges gives prosecutors an important victory in their effort to bring pedophile priests to justice.

Shanley, 74, was the most notorious figure in a sex scandal that rocked the Boston Archdiocese.

He could get life in prison for two counts each of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child when he is sentenced Feb. 15. His bail was revoked and he was led off to jail.

The victim, now 27, put his head down and sobbed as the verdicts were announced after a trial that turned on the reliability of what the man claimed were recovered memories of the long-ago abuse. Shanley showed no emotion.

At the trial, the accuser broke down on the stand as he testified in graphic detail that Shanley pulled him out of Sunday morning catechism classes and molested him in the bathroom, the rectory, the confessional and the pews starting when he was 6 and continuing for six years.

“He told me nobody would ever believe me if I told anybody,” he testified.

The accuser said he repressed his memories of the abuse but that they came flooding back three years ago, triggered by news coverage of the scandal that began in Boston and soon engulfed the church worldwide.

The defense called just one witness — a psychologist who said that so-called recovered memories can be false, even if the accuser ardently believes they are true. A lawyer for Shanley argued that the accuser was either mistaken or concocted the story with the help of personal injury lawyers.

The accuser, a firefighter in suburban Boston, was one of at least two dozen men who claimed they had been molested by Shanley.

Posted by Nancy at February 7, 2005 01:27 PM