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Church settles with four in suit

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Spotlight Report

Grand jury indicts Shanley, rape of four boys

By Stephen Kurkjian and Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff, 6/21/2002

The Rev. Paul R. Shanley, a one-time street preacher who has come to symbolize the alleged failure of the Archdiocese of Boston to control sexually abusive priests, was indicted yesterday on charges that he raped four boys in a since-closed Newton church.

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said a grand jury charged Shanley with 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery. Shanley, 71, who has been held on bail since his arrest in San Diego last month, will be arraigned sometime next week, Coakley said.

The indictment alleges the crimes took place between 1979 and 1989, while Shanley was at St. John the Evangelist Church, which has since been closed. Coakley said two victims were attacked between the ages of 6 and 11, another between 7 and 12, and the fourth from the time he was 10 until he was 15.

Three of the four victims attended the same religious education classes at St. John's between 1983 and 1989, when many of the attacks occurred, she said. After his arrest, prosecutors said Shanley had taken one boy out of religious class and abused him in the church bathroom, a confessional and the adjacent rectory where Shanley lived.

Neither Donna M. Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Boston, nor Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, could be reached for comment. Mondano has in the past said he found allegations that Shanley had been allowed to remove boys from classes to abuse them hard to believe.

While Coakley didn't identify the alleged victims by name, two of them, John Busa and Gregory Ford, both 24, have filed lawsuits against Shanley and the archdiocese and have come forward to identify themselves.

Coakley said many others had contacted her office, alleging that Shanley had abused them. But she said their cases fell outside the statute of limitations and could not be prosecuted. She declined to estimate how many others had contacted her office.

The statute of limitations for rape changed in 1985, going from six to 10 years, and in 1988 it changed again, so that the clock did not begin ticking until the victim turned 16. The statute of limitations is suspended when a suspect leaves Massachusetts, as Shanley did for California in 1990.

At a press conference at his lawyer's office, Greg Ford's father, Rodney Ford, expressed his family's gratitude to law enforcement officials and the other alleged victims who stepped forward.

''From this work, hopefully, Shanley will never abuse another child again,'' Ford said.

Asked for his reaction at the news of the indictment, Ford said, ''I hate to use the word happy in a situation like this, but I am glad to see there can be resolution for the victims.''

Ford's lawyer, Roderick MacLeish Jr., has filed suit against Cardinal Bernard F. Law, claiming Law failed to supervise Shanley.

In his lawsuit, Busa said that he ''started to repress memories of the abuse almost immediately from the time it began,'' but that the memories flooded back in February after he read a story about Shanley in the Globe. That story recounted Shanley's life as a ''street priest'' in Boston during the 1970s, when he befriended troubled teens living on the streets, and it reported allegations that Shanley had abused minors.

All four of the alleged victims are said to have ''repressed memories,'' which defense lawyers have attacked in other cases around the country, suggesting repressed memories are fabricated. Coakley said she does not use the term, but said all the alleged victims ''had issues of old memories that have been recovered in different ways.''

She said the recovery of such memories is common when a young victim has suffered trauma.

Shanley's personnel file was full of salacious and disturbing allegations, including those that he openly advocated sex between men and boys at a meeting attended by those who went on to found the North American Man Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA.

In 1990, when Shanley went to work in San Bernardino, Law did not inform officials about Shanley's notorious past. Last week, at the US Bishops Conference in Dallas, Law apologized to the bishop from San Bernadino for that.

Asked if Boston Archdiocese officials were aware of the alleged abuse carried out at the Newton church, Coakley declined to say, but said whether they knew did not fall within the parameters of her investigation. On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill that would make it a crime to allow any supervisor to put someone with a history of abuse in a position to abuse children.

Coakley said the abuse carried out by Shanley would not have taken place had adults done more to protect children.

''In an ideal world, adults protect children,'' she said.

Globe correspondent Todd Wright contributed to this report.

This story ran on page A22 of the Boston Globe on 6/21/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing LLC.


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