January 19, 2005

Trial begins for priest at center of clergy sex abuse scandal

CAMBRIDGE (MA)
Telegram & Gazette

By DENISE LAVOIE
Associated Press Writer

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Potential jurors were questioned about their views on the Catholic Church and whether they had been victims of sexual abuse as the child rape trial began for defrocked priest Paul Shanley.

Four jurors were seated Tuesday, among them a man who is Catholic and does landscaping at his church. Others were sent home because they'd seen pretrial media coverage and didn't think they could be objective. Jury selection was to continue Wednesday, with opening statements tentatively scheduled for Monday.

Twelve jurors and four alternates will hear the case against Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal. He is accused of child rape and indecent assault and battery of a child and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The criminal case against Shanley now hinges on the allegations of a single alleged victim after prosecutors formally dropped another accuser on Tuesday.

Prosecutors already had dropped two other accusers from the case. They removed the third because they have been unable to find him since a hearing in October when he had difficulty remaining composed to testify.

Posted by kshaw at January 19, 2005 08:43 AM