January 19, 2005

Child sex abuse trial opens of defrocked Boston priest

Politcal Gateway

BOSTON, Massachusetts, Jan 18 (AFP) - A defrocked priest at the center of the sex abuse scandal that rocked the US Roman Catholic Church in recent years, went on trial Tuesday charged with child rape and indecent assault and battery.

A "street priest" who ministered to disadvantaged youths in the 1960s and 70s, Paul Shanley has been accused in civil lawsuits of molesting dozens of children, although his indictment on criminal charges in mid-2002 focused on just four victims.

Shanley, 73, is one of the few priests brought to criminal trial over the abuse scandal that centered on the Boston Archdiocese and first came to light about three years ago.

Because he left Massachusetts for California in 1990, Shanley effectively stopped the clock on the 15-year statute of limitations that allowed other accused members of the clergy to escape criminal prosecution.

"This is a really important case," said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivor's Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

"For many people, Boston remains the epicenter of this crisis," Clohessy said. "And its just so hard for many survivors to accept that this arbitrary, archaic technicality means that, even in very well documented cases of abuse and cover up, no justice is done."

Posted by kshaw at January 19, 2005 09:21 AM