The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Shanley lawyer challenges case and bail

By John Ellement, Globe Staff, 5/10/2002

CAMBRIDGE - A composed Rev. Paul R. Shanley was back in court yesterday, where his defense attorney argued it would have been impossible for Shanley to rape and molest a young boy each week for seven years while the alleged victim attended Catholic education classes at a Newton church.

Frank Mondano, Shanley's defense attorney, mounted his attack on the criminal charges against the priest as he asked Middlesex Superior Court Judge Charles Hely to decrease the $750,000 cash bail set for Shanley in district court Tuesday.

''The logistics of the claim essentially make them not possible,'' Mondano said as he tried to convince Hely the three counts of rape of a child under the age of 16 are built on a weak foundation.

Hely took the bail review request under advisement and said he will issue a written ruling, but did not say when he will make his decision.

Shanley is alleged to have sexually assaulted a Newton boy, Paul Busa, every week beginning when Busa was 6 years old in 1983 and continuing until 1990. Shanley was then assigned to St. John the Evangelist Church, which has since been closed.

Shanley has pleaded not guilty. Busa has filed a civil lawsuit against Shanley and the Archdiocese of Boston.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Mondano said he was ''speculating'' that the members of the parish who ran the religious education classes would not have let Shanley - or anyone else - have ''wholesale'' access to the one victim and other children.

''I suspect they would not have permitted [children] being removed wholesale'' from the classrooms, he said. He said he assumed the parishioners ''took pretty good care'' of the children in the classes. He said he has not yet been given all the evidence against Shanley.

In court, Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Lynn Rooney said the account from the alleged victim - whom she did not name - has been corroborated by others. She also alleged Shanley committed oral and anal rape on the victim as well as numerous instances of ''indecent'' touching in the church's pews, the confessional, a church bathroom, and the rectory.

Rooney, as she did at Tuesday's arraignment, quoted form letters Shanley wrote to the Archdiocese of Boston in the late 1990s while civil lawsuits were being filed against him and the church for alleged sexual molestations of children. She said those letters are evidence that Shanley could flee from Massachusetts if bail is reduced.

In the correspondence, Shanley offered to move to Costa Rica or Mexico while keeping in touch with the archdiocese through a post office box in the United States. For the first time, Rooney referred to a 1999 letter in which Shanley offered to move to South America to save the archdiocese on expenses.

But Mondano said Rooney was twisting the meaning of Shanley's words in the letters. He said that Shanley had never considered becoming a fugitive, in part, because he has no income other than that provided by the archdiocese. He also said Shanley has unspecified health problems that could not be taken care of if he was no longer covered by the church's health insurance program.

At his earlier court appearance, Shanley was in casual clothes, the same clothes he was wearing when arrested by San Diego authorities on April 30. Yesterday, Shanley wore a gray suit jacket.

During most of the 20-minute proceeding, he sat still in a jury box, staring straight ahead. But when Rooney described the allegations against him, Shanley shifted his focus - without moving his head - to Rooney. Shanley had no obvious emotional reaction.

Mondano told reporters Shanley was ''fatigued'' earlier in the week, but has since had a chance to rest and is ready to mount a vigorous defense. ''He came back to take it on, head-on. That's his frame of mind,'' Mondano said.

Mondano said relatives and friends of Shanley's are willing to help the priest post bail.

This story ran on page A40 of the Boston Globe on 5/10/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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