February 09, 2005

Credible witness

Boston Globe

February 9, 2005

THE CASE against Paul R. Shanley came down to the word of one person, a man who was forced to relive horrific childhood memories in front of strangers in a Middlesex Superior courtroom. That 12 of them, empaneled as a jury, found Shanley guilty of child rape is a tribute to the witness's courage and credibility.

The Globe first reported in 2002 that complaints of sexual abuse against Shanley go back to the 1960s, but most were beyond the statute of limitations. Up until the 1990s few people were willing to face the calumny that would come to them if they accused a Catholic priest of this crime.

The Globe articles and other reports of abuse removed the veil of silence. And four people came forward to accuse Shanley of molesting them when he was the pastor of St. Jean Church in Newton. Abuse victims are often troubled themselves, either by the abuse or by other problems in their childhood. They often do not make credible witnesses, and Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley decided to pursue only one case.

The man who agreed to testify -- unnamed because of Globe policy -- was already assured of a $500,000 settlement from the Archdiocese of Boston in a civil case. Despite assertions by the defense lawyer, Frank Mondano, he was clearly not testifying for financial gain. Mondano put him through a scathing, 14-hour cross-examination, but his ordeal increased his credibility before the jury.

Posted by kshaw at February 9, 2005 07:17 AM