Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Massachusetts' high court to hear Shanley repressed memory case

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, national president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)

We know this hearing will bring up painful memories for the thousands of Massachusetts men and women who have been sexually assaulted by Shanley and hundreds of other priests, brothers, nuns, bishops, and other Catholic employees. Our hearts ache for them at this time and we hope they will continue to take good care of themselves despite the specter of seeing Shanley's face in the news again.

Increasingly, especially in recent years, more and more courts are recognizing that some kids unwittingly protect themselves from unimaginable, confusing and overwhelming trauma by repressing it. (So too do some adults, in wars, collisions, and other situations.) It's an involuntary coping mechanism that is widely accepted by most scientific, medical and psychological experts, especially those on the front lines who actually see patients and treat wounded children (despite considerable noise made by a few who doubt such memories).

We are confident that Massachusetts' highest court will join most of nation's other courts in acknowledging this reality.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 21 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003)

Convicted ex-priest challenges repressed memories

Associated Press - September 9, 2009 2:44 PM ET

BOSTON (AP) - Defrocked priest Paul Shanley's appeal of his rape conviction is heading to the highest court in Massachusetts.

Shanley is serving a 12- to 15-year prison sentence for repeatedly raping and fondling a boy at a Roman Catholic parish in Newton in the 1980s.

Shanley's lawyer is challenging his conviction based on the victim's claim of repressed memories. The victim said he did not remember the abuse for two decades until memories came rushing back in 2002 amid media coverage of the clergy sex abuse scandal in Boston.

A Superior Court judge rejected Shanley's bid for a new trial last year.

Shanley's lawyer argues that the theory of repressed memory has been rejected by the scientific community.

The Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments in the case Thursday.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests