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About Father Shanley

Some quotes and clippings from the press

1) Defrocked priest faces only a single accuser

CNN, January 19, 2005

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (AP) -- The criminal case against a defrocked Roman Catholic priest at the center of the Boston Archdiocese sex scandal now hinges on the allegations of a single accuser.

Prosecutors formally dropped a third accuser on Tuesday, leaving just one from the original four alleged victims of Paul Shanley. The move to drop the accuser from the case was widely expected.

That leaves Shanley, 73, facing three charges of raping a child and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child. The maximum sentence is life in prison.

[...]

Prosecutors already had dropped two other accusers from the case, and removed the third because they have been unable to find him since a hearing in October when he had difficulty remaining composed to testify.

Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, has made it clear he will argue that the lone remaining accuser made up his story of abuse to win a monetary award in a civil lawsuit.

[...]

Shanley became a key figure in the scandal as the archdiocese released personnel files showing that he had publicly advocated sex between men and boys. The files revealed that officials were aware of complaints against him as early as 1967, but they continued to transfer him from parish to parish.

His accusers told stories of being taken out of religious education classes and raped by Shanley, in the church rectory, confessional and restroom.

All of the alleged victims settled lawsuits with the Boston Archdiocese in April 2004. The exact monetary terms were not disclosed, but an attorney for the men has said each received more than $300,000.

[...]

Shanley's defense also plans to challenge the man's claims of repressed memories. The man said he did not remember the abuse until after the clergy scandal erupted in Boston three years ago.

 

2) Ex-Priest Shanley Convicted of Molestation

FoxNews, February 07, 2005

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Defrocked priest Paul Shanley (search), the most notorious figure in the sex scandal that rocked the Boston Archdiocese (search), was convicted Monday of raping and fondling a boy at his Roman Catholic church during the 1980s.

The conviction on all four charges gives prosecutors a high-profile victory in their effort to bring pedophile priests to justice for decades of abuse at parishes around the country.

Shanley, 74, 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 immediately 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 he claimed were recovered memories of the long-ago abuse. Shanley showed no emotion as he stood next to his attorneys.

[...]

During 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 raped and groped him in the church bathroom, the rectory, the confessional and the pews starting when he was 6.

"It felt awful," he testified. "He told me nobody would ever believe me if I told anybody."

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 (search) and soon engulfed the church worldwide.

Shanley, once a long-haired, jeans-wearing "street priest" who worked with Boston's troubled youth, sat stoically for most of the trial, listening to his accuser's testimony with the help of a hearing aid.

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 to cash in on a multimillion-dollar settlement resulting from the sex scandal.

The accuser, now a firefighter in suburban Boston, was one of at least two dozen men who claimed they had been molested by Shanley. The archdiocese's own personnel records showed that church officials knew Shanley publicly advocated sex between men and boys, yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish.

Prosecutors said the accuser had no financial motivation in accusing Shanley of rape in the criminal case because he received his $500,000 settlement with the archdiocese nearly a year ago. They also cited his three days on stand, during which he sobbed and begged the judge not to force him to continue testifying.

"The emotions were raw. They were real," prosecutor Lynn Rooney said in closing arguments.

[...]

Shanley is one of the few priests prosecutors have been able to charge. Most of the priests accused of wrongdoing avoided prosecution because the statute of liminations on their alleged crimes ran out long ago. But the clock stopped when Shanley moved out of Massachusetts.

He was arrested in California at the height of the scandal in May 2002, and brought back to Massachusetts in handcuffs charged with raping four boys from his parish in Newton, outside Boston. All four claimed they repressed memories of the abuse, then recovered them when the scandal broke.

But the case ran into numerous problems. In July, prosecutors dropped two of the accusers in what they said was a move to strengthen their case. Then, on the day jury selection began, they dropped a third accuser because they were unable to find him after a traumatic experience on the witness stand at a hearing last fall.

[...]

The scandal intensified later in 2002 when the church released Shanley's 800-page personnel file. Despite church teachings, he argued for acceptance of homosexuality and pushed for gay rights. He called himself a "sexual expert" and advertised his counseling services in the alternative press.

He resigned from parish work in 1989 and moved to California. At the time, Law, who resigned as archbishop in December 2002 at the height of the scandal, praised his "impressive record." Boston church officials recommended him for a job in the Diocese of San Bernardino as a priest in "good standing."

 

3) Beat the Devil

Back to Salem

Alexander Cockburn, TheNation.com, February 17, 2005

Off goes former Father Paul Shanley to state prison in Massachusetts for twelve to fifteen years, convicted of digitally raping and otherwise sexually abusing Paul Busa two decades ago.

Shanley's now 74; the earliest he can hope for parole is when he's 82, at which point the DA could determine that he is still, though frail, "a sexually dangerous person" and should be confined for whatever years remain. A DA in Massachusetts exercised just that option in the case of another ex-priest, James Porter, who was released last year after pleading guilty in 1993 to molesting twenty-eight children. At the time of his death in February at the age of 70, Porter was in civil confinement, with the state seeking to keep him behind bars indefinitely.

So Shanley must know that most likely he will never see the light of day, unless through a barred window. He has more pressing concerns, namely the distinct possibility that he will be murdered in prison.

"I want him to die in prison, whether it's of natural causes or otherwise. However he dies, I hope it's slow and painful," declared Shanley's accuser, Paul Busa, a 27-year-old firefighter, in a written statement read in court.

The menacing words "or otherwise" were no doubt intended to evoke the fate of John Geoghan, a priest sent to a Massachusetts prison in 2002 for fondling a 10-year-old. Although Geoghan was being kept in "protective custody," he was strangled to death by a man serving a life term for killing a gay man. There have been allegations that prison guards were complicit in his murder. Paul Busa's father, Richard, is a corrections officer, and other relatives, including Paul's wife, are in Massachusetts law enforcement.

In his written statement Busa said that Shanley "is a founding member of NAMBLA and openly advocated sex between men and little boys."

It's this supposed distinction, as the man who created the North American Man Boy Love Association, that has earned Shanley his throne in the Ninth Circle of the damned. It was one of the credentials in his [accusation] as presented in a two-and-a-half-hour PowerPoint presentation to the press in April 2002 by Roderick MacLeish Jr., the personal-injury lawyer representing Busa. At that presentation MacLeish released Shanley's ample diocesan file to the media, which hurriedly repeated MacLeish's allegations without pausing to scrutinize the file.

Had they done so, they would have found nothing to buttress the claims that Shanley founded NAMBLA, or was ever a member, or had ever advocated sex between men and little boys, or had a thirty-year record of child abuse complaints made against him or a history of being moved from parish to parish.

Yet all these allegations have become the common currency of Shanley's biography, and if guards usher a murderer into his cell, the killer will probably have the NAMBLA charge at the top of his mind. Shanley's defense counsel, Frank Mondano, has said that during jury selection every potential juror was aware of the Shanley scandal, and what they most commonly "knew" was that Shanley was somehow involved with NAMBLA.

When my colleague JoAnn Wypijewski began to report on the Shanley case in 2002, the first thing she did was read the 1,600-page diocesan file that MacLeish had brandished. It became clear to JoAnn that in a case that had consumed the press, most conspicuously the Boston Globe, which ran almost daily stories on the priest scandal for years, she seems to have been the only reporter to have taken the trouble to look at the church dossier.

What she found in the documents were many pages of Shanley's fervent defense of homosexuality as a normal human variation and the uproar these arguments provoked in the church.

(Shanley, like many in his generation, found support for his assertions in Alfred Kinsey's 1950s sex surveys.)

In terms of sexual abuse, the church file has one complaint from the 1960s, which Shanley denied and his superior, rightly or wrongly, determined to be baseless; then nothing until the early 1990s, when a few accusers imputed various abuses to the priest dating back to the 1960s or '70s. But nowhere was there any support for the claim that Shanley was a founder of NAMBLA or had attended a NAMBLA meeting.

JoAnn, despite many discoveries about Shanley's active sex life as a priest, found no external evidence to back the charge. [...] .

What landed Shanley in prison was not anything in the church's file but the uncorroborated "recovered memories" of one man, Paul Busa. This case is a throwback to the early 1990s and before, when people were put behind bars for lifetimes on the basis of memories elicited by leading questions of psychotherapists.

Ultimately, after years of patient effort by a few journalists, psychoanalysts, psychological researchers and advocates for justice, "recovered memory" [*] as a tool of the latter-day Inquisition fell into well-deserved disrepute. In the state that gave us Salem in the seventeenth century and the Amiraults in the twentieth, Shanley's case has reintroduced recovered memory to the courtrooms of the twenty-first.

[* See Overview about lost and false memories.]

In Shanley's trial, prosecution witnesses would not confirm Busa's claim that he was regularly taken from religious-instruction classes by Shanley. Nor would they confirm that they had ever seen the priest alone with Busa, or had seen anything untoward in the years 1983-89, during which Busa claims abuse. These claims were based on memories that became active in 2002, following Busa's conversation with his girlfriend about the nearly identical recovered memories of his friend Gregory Ford. Ford was dropped by the prosecution in the same case, as were two others, their stories apparently deemed by the DA too vexed for courtroom use.

No facts relative to the charges intruded into the courtroom; only emotion. Superior Court Judge Stephen Neel should have dismissed the charges, as requested by the defense. In the atmosphere of Massachusetts it would have taken courage to do that, and truly extraordinary courage for anyone on the jury (which included a therapist) to have insisted that memories are not evidence, and that there was far more than reasonable doubt in this case.

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