January 18, 2005

Jury Selection To Start In Shanley Sex Abuse Trial


POSTED: 6:11 am EST January 18, 2005
UPDATED: 8:21 am EST January 18, 2005

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Decades after he allegedly molested young boys at a church in Newton, Mass., defrocked priest Paul Shanley is going to trial. Jury selection begins Tuesday.

NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that Shanley, 73, is free on bail and it is not known whether he will be present for jury selection.

Shanley was arrested three years ago in San Diego and charged with several counts of rape of a child and assault and battery for alleged crimes that occurred while he was at St. Jean's Parish in Newton. The case began with four accusers but is going to trial with only one. The plaintiff's name is not being revealed. The most vocal accuser, Gregory Ford, [pictured right] was dropped because prosecutors feared his medical history could hurt the case against Shanley. His father, Rodney Ford, said he hopes the former Catholic priest is convicted and goes to jail.

All four boys told similar stories of being taken out of religious education classes by Shanley and raped in the confessional, restroom and church rectory. Prosecutors dropped three of the accusers before the trial.

Shanley allegedly abused more than 12 young boys during his career as a Roman Catholic priest in the Boston archdiocese, but the statute of limitations made it impossible to prosecute most of the cases because they took place so long ago. Because Shanley moved out of state, however, the clock stopped on some of the cases, allowing prosecutors to charge him with sexual abuse that took place between 1979 and 1989.

Posted by kshaw at January 18, 2005 07:35 AM