January 29, 2005

Defense prepares to challenge alleged abuse victim's memory

Boston Herald

By Marie Szaniszlo
Saturday, January 29, 2005

A day after he begged a judge not to make him return to court, the man accusing defrocked priest Paul Shanley of raping him as a child finished testifying yesterday, but defense lawyers are preparing to challenge his claim that he recovered memories of the alleged abuse nearly 20 years after he says it occurred.

Next week, the defense will call Elizabeth Loftus, a University of California at Irvine psychologist frequently paid to testify as an expert about what she has called the ``myth'' of repressed memory.

The alleged victim, a 27-year-old firefighter and former military police officer, claims Shanley repeatedly molested him between the ages of 6 and 12 while he was a Sunday school student at St. Jean's parish in Newton, but says he buried any memory of the abuse until he began having flashbacks in 2002.

The Herald is not naming the man because he is an alleged sexual assault victim.

His wife testified yesterday about his behavior after recovering memories of the alleged abuse.``He woke up. He was very agitated and restless. He had soaked the sheets with sweat,'' she said, her voice breaking as Shanley, 74, sat impassively, his hand to his chin. ``He got on the floor and curled up in a ball and shook. I tried to hold him, but he wouldn't let me.''

The testimony was some of the most dramatic to date in a case that appeared to be headed for a mistrial Thursday after the alleged victim pleaded with Middlesex Superior Court Judge Stephen Neel to spare him from a third day of questioning.

Posted by kshaw at January 29, 2005 06:15 AM