The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Shanley pleads not guilty

Priest is held on high bail in 4 child rapes

By Douglas Belkin, Globe Staff, 7/11/2002

Retired Roman Catholic priest Paul Shanley pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he raped four boys while assigned to a Newton church in the 1970s and '80s, and his lawyer vowed that the ex-street preacher is ''up to a fight.''

Calling Shanley a victim of intense media coverage, his lawyer, Frank Mondano, said he is concerned about his client's ability to get a fair trial, but noted, ''His attitude is unchanged. He's up to a fight. We're going to defend.''

Wearing ankle shackles and a gray sport coat, Shanley, 71, pleaded not guilty in Middlesex Superior Court to 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery. He is charged with attacking four boys between 1979 and 1989 while he was assigned to the St. John the Evangelist Parish.

He was ordered held on $300,000 bail by Judge Charles Hely, then led away by two court officers. The judge scheduled the case for trial on Nov. 5.

''The potential of getting a jury that's not affected by the volume of coverage that this situation has received strikes me as remote,'' Mondano said.

But when asked if he would try to get the trial moved to another jurisdiction, Mondano answered, ''Moved to where? ... Have they not heard about it in California?''

After the arraignment, Rodney Ford, the father of one of the boys Shanley allegedly molested, said he looked into Shanley's eyes and saw a man whose back is up against the wall. ''He knows who we are,'' Ford said, referring to the half-dozen family members with him. ''And I thought he was scared. He realizes he got caught, and there's no way out for this guy now.''

Shanley has been jailed since May, when he was arrested in San Diego and brought back to Massachusetts to face charges. Prosecutors allege that while he was a priest at the now-defunct Newton parish, he abused four children ages 6 to 15 who were attending religious classes at the church.

Paul Busa, who is now 24, has said that Shanley began molesting him when he was 6, taking him out of class about once a week and assaulting him in the rectory, confessional, and a bathroom. Busa said the abuse occurred between 1983 and 1989, and that he remembered it only after he read a profile about Shanley earlier this year in the Globe.

Because the cases are so old and most of the victims were so young, Joseph Gallagher Jr., president of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors, said he doesn't expect the state to have an easy time prosecuting a man who has come to symbolize the alleged failure of the Archdiocese of Boston to control sexually abusive priests.

''I wouldn't underestimate how difficult the trial will be,'' Gallagher said. ''You're talking largely about repressed memories.''

Earlier this year, the Boston Archdiocese released files indicating that church officials had received complaints about Shanley dating to 1967. The files also showed Shanley had advocated sex between men and boys.

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who has been under fire since the scandal first erupted in January, said in a letter distributed to parishes in May that he did not become aware until 1993 of any abuse allegations against Shanley. But lawyers for victims have disputed Law's claim.

State Attorney General Thomas Reilly has convened a grand jury to investigate whether the cardinal and other church leaders knowingly assigned accused pedophile priests to positions where they had access to children.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 7/11/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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