January 18, 2005

Ex-Priest's Trial Begins On Child Rape, Assault

Washington Post

By Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 18, 2005; Page A02

BOSTON -- In the hierarchy of those considered arch-villains of this city's clergy sexual abuse scandal, victims' advocates say Paul R. Shanley, whose trial begins Tuesday, ranks near the top alongside fellow defrocked priest John J. Geoghan, who was killed in prison in 2003.

A charismatic street preacher who received acclaim for his ministry to gay teenagers and disadvantaged youths in the 1970s, Shanley has been accused in civil lawsuits of molesting dozens of children -- many of whom have received financial settlements from Boston's Catholic archdiocese in recent years -- and of publicly advocating sex between men and boys.

Shanley, who faces criminal charges of child rape and indecent assault and battery, is one of the few priests to be indicted from the abuse crisis that was exposed three years ago. Criminal statutes of limitations have prevented the prosecution of all but a few priests in Boston, because many of the abuse allegations concern events that took place decades ago.

A few of Shanley's accusers were able to overcome such restrictions because of a technicality: The priest left Massachusetts for California more than a decade ago, a move that by law stops the countdown for the statute to expire.

Posted by kshaw at January 18, 2005 12:37 AM