January 31, 2005

Psychiatrist testifies on repressed memory at Shanley trial

Telegram & Gazette

AP Legal Affairs Writer

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. A psychologist testifying in the child rape trial of defrocked priest Paul Shanley said Monday that it's not uncommon for adults who suffer trauma as children to repress memories of the experience.

Shanley's accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter, says he remembered in early 2002 that he'd been repeatedly raped and molested by the former priest from 1983 to 1989 at a Newton parish. Shanley's lawyer has questioned the science behind repressed memory, also known as dissociative amnesia.

The condition is "not common, but it's not at all rare," said prosecution witness Dr. James Chu, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

He said repressed memory is more common among people who suffered repeated trauma as children than in those who suffered a single traumatic event.

"It really is more this repeated trauma that tends to be forgotten by some mechanism," Chu said.

Posted by kshaw at January 31, 2005 05:51 PM