Shanley Found Guilty of Child Rape
Paul Shanley, 74, the most prominent figure in the Boston clergy
abuse scandal, faces life in prison. His accuser sobs after the
By Elizabeth Mehren - LA Times Staff Writer
February 8, 2005
CAMBRIDGE, Mass . A jury Monday found defrocked priest Paul
Shanley guilty of repeatedly raping a young boy at a Boston-area
church during the 1980s.
The panel of seven men and five women deliberated for nearly 15
hours before convicting Shanley, 74, on two counts of child rape
and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under
One of the most notorious figures in the Boston clerical abuse
scandal, Shanley showed no emotion as the verdict was delivered.
He was immediately placed into custody, his $300,000 bail revoked.
Judge Stephen Neel said Shanley would be sentenced Feb. 15. He could
receive life in prison.
Shanley's accuser a 27-year-old firefighter who had asked
not to be named during the two-week trial buried his face
in his hands and broke into sobs when the former priest was declared
guilty. Holding hands with his wife, he left the court without comment.
Middlesex County Dist. Atty. Martha Coakley said the case was "the
perfect storm of a child abuse situation," because it involved
"a priest with a predilection for little boys
figure who was well-loved."
Nevertheless, Coakley said, securing a conviction was "an
uphill battle," because the case relied on old memories and
a young man who until recently had not spoken publicly about the
Defense attorney Frank Mondano said he would appeal the verdict.
Shanley's accuser was one of four men who said the once-popular
priest had molested them at St. Jean's Roman Catholic parish in
Newton, near Boston. Three of the men backed out or were dropped
by prosecutors before the trial began, leaving only the firefighter
to testify against his former pastor.
Alternately tearful and combative, the accuser testified about
abuse that began in 1983, when he was 6 years old and attending
catechism classes at St. Jean's. He said that Shanley orally or
digitally raped him in the church bathroom, the pews, the confessional
and the rectory.
Prosecutor Lynn Rooney told jurors that Shanley repeatedly had
told the victim: "If you tell, no one will believe you."
The accuser said the abuse continued until he was 12 years old.
But he said he had repressed all memory of it until 2001, when he
was in the Air Force and stationed in Colorado. After he learned
of two Boston newspaper articles describing alleged sexual abuse
by Shanley, the accuser said, his memories "came flooding back."
Mondano argued that the accuser had been motivated by greed and
a desire for attention. Last year, the firefighter accepted a $500,000
settlement from the Archdiocese of Boston.
In Shanley's defense, Mondano called just one witness: UC Irvine
psychology professor Elizabeth Loftus, who questioned the validity
of repressed memory.
In the clerical abuse scandal that erupted in Boston three years
ago, Shanley was the most prominent among scores of priests accused
of molesting children over a period of at least four decades.
Many of the charges were validated in previously secret documents
maintained by the archdiocese that showed church officials knew
of sexual abuse complaints against the priests. Rather than reassigning
the priests to jobs where they would not work with children, church
officials moved the accused from parish to parish.
Abuse allegations against Shanley dated to at least 1967, according
to the church files. The documents also showed that church leaders
knew Shanley had attended a 1979 meeting of men involved in sexual
relationships with young males. That meeting led to the founding
of NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Assn.
In the 1970s, Shanley worked as a "street priest" who
ministered to troubled adolescents. He kept his hair long, wore
jeans and rode a motorcycle.
The Boston abuse scandal led to an $85-million settlement by the
archdiocese with more than 500 victims. Most of the priests named
in civil lawsuits managed to avoid criminal trials because the statute
of limitations on the alleged abuse had run out.
But Shanley had moved from Massachusetts to California in 1990,
stopping the clock on the state's 15-year statute of limitations.
He was arrested in San Diego in May 2002 and extradited to Massachusetts.
He was defrocked by the Vatican last year.
The archdiocese released a statement Monday: "It is important
for the Archdiocese of Boston, in this moment, to again apologize
for the crimes and harm perpetrated against children by priests
who held the trust and esteem of families and the community."
Shanley's niece Teresa, who mortgaged her house to help her uncle
make bail, attended the trial each day.
"There aren't any winners here today, only losers," she
said after the verdict was announced. "We're no closer to finding
out the truth, or why it even happened, than we were before."
Another Shanley supporter, Paul Shannon, said: "Given the
climate of the times, there was no way a whole jury would find him
innocent. I was hoping for a hung jury."
Bill Gately, co-coordinator of the New England chapter of SNAP
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said
he was "elated" by the verdict. "Any time you can
get a child molester off the street is a day to be happy,"
Ann Hagan Webb, also co-coordinator of SNAP in New England, said
Shanley's conviction would lend strength to a movement to abolish
statutes of limitation in child abuse cases in Massachusetts. A
bill to end such statutes is pending in the Legislature.
"Only 2% of the [pedophile] priests ever get inside the courtroom
because of the statute of limitations," Webb said.
"This decision says that there can be justice," she said.
"So many of us had to count on this case for our justice, because
our own cases could not be brought."