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April 6
Church settles with four in suit

February 25, 2004
Priest was a potential witness

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CEO would testify of abuse

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Personal records are barred

April 8
Victim's memory is questioned

April 5
Archdiocese motion granted

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Disagreement over court dates

January 28, 2003
Steps on Shanley are detailed

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Former vicar admits he erred

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Shanley is released on bail

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Shanley may be freed on bail

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Battle over files intensifies

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Shanley set for Mass. return; Coakley eyes roles conflict

By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff, 5/4/2002

One day after his arrest in San Diego on three counts of child rape, the Rev. Paul R. Shanley yesterday waived his right to fight extradition to Massachusetts and is expected to face arraignment in Newton as early as next week.

Meanwhile, a law enforcement official close to Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said she is leaning toward resigning from her volunteer position on Cardinal Bernard F. Law's Commission for the Protection of Children, amid increasing questions about whether her membership on the panel compromises her duties as a prosecutor.

Coakley said yesterday she is ''seriously considering'' leaving the commission, which she joined in March, now that her office is poised to indict a Boston priest who Law knew had been accused of sexual molestation.

For some legal ethicists, the issue is not whether Coakley will resign, but when.

''She's in a position to be advising the church hierarchy as she's investigating members of the clergy that could include the church hierarchy, and those two roles simply do not mix,'' said Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University.

But Coakley defended her decision to serve on the panel, saying that because ''the mandate of the commission was not to investigate individual cases ... but to advise the church on mending its ways,'' she did not believe her membership would interfere with her law enforcement responsibilities.

She repeated her pledge, made at a news conference Thursday to announce Shanley's arrest, that she will review her membership to determine if it conflicts, or presents the appearance of a conflict, with her job as district attorney.

''I do not feel that what I've done as a prosecutor has been compromised in any way'' by serving on the panel, Coakley said. ''And if I do resign it will be over concern of an apparent conflict of interest now that the Shanley case has arisen.''

At yesterday's extradition hearing, a San Diego Superior Court judge ordered that Shanley, 71, be held without bail until he is picked up by Massachusetts authorities. That should happen within the next few days, when two Massachusetts police officers fly to California to escort him to Boston, Coakley said.

Shanley, who was known as Boston's ''street priest'' in the 1960s and '70s, faces numerous allegations of sexually abusing many of the same troubled young people he ministered to during his career as a priest, which began with his ordination in 1960.

Coakley and other top prosecutors also face the thorny task of weighing whether Law and other high church officials should face criminal charges for their involvement in shuffling abusive priests from parish to parish.

''I knew there was a potential for conflict, but I left that door open,'' said Coakley, who has said that she does not believe her investigation of Shanley will lead to criminal charges against church officials who supervised him.

The 15-member commission has been asked by Law to advise the archdiocese as it reevaluates its policies on clergy misconduct.

Law announced the creation of the commission in January, after the Globe reported that he had reassigned the former Rev. John J. Geoghan to parish work despite knowing about his long history of molesting children. In March, the previously all-male commission was expanded from seven to 15 people when eight women were added to the panel.

Shanley's arrest resulted from recent allegations made by Paul Busa, a 24-year-old former Newton man who told authorities that Shanley forced him to have sex after religious instruction at the now-defunct St. John the Evangelist Church in Newton.

Busa alleges in a civil lawsuit that Shanley repeatedly molested him from 1983 to 1989, beginning when Busa was 6 years old. In his suit, Busa said he started to repress memories of the abuse almost immediately after it began, and that the memories came back in February after he read a story about Shanley in the Globe.

Busa's attorney, Roderick MacLeish Jr., has filed additional civil suits on behalf of three men who allege that they, too, were abused by Shanley at St. John when they were children.

One of those three is Gregory Ford, whose suit against Law forced the release of the archdiocese's confidential files on Shanley. Those 1,600 pages of church documents showed that church officials allowed Shanley to work as a parish priest even though they had evidence of his sexual misconduct, and knew he advocated sex between men and boys.

Three of the four lawsuits alleging abuse by Shanley in Newton are based on recovered or repressed memories, according to MacLeish, who acknowledged that such cases sometimes lend themselves to controversy. But he defended the validity of the allegations, saying that repressed memory is a ''totally legitimate psychological phenomenon.''

David Finkelhor, a professor of sociology and director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said the recovered-memory accusations against Shanley are strengthened by their sheer number. Typical recovered memory cases involve only a single accuser, he said, and are therefore less likely to hold up in court.

''When you have multiple people testifying about this kind of thing, it has considerably more credibility,'' he said.

Coakley, meanwhile, said her office's decision to base Shanley's arrest on Busa's allegations rather than those by the other three Newton accusers ''was really just a question of timing,'' and she noted that all the allegations will be presented to a grand jury.

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 5/4/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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