February 02, 2005

Ex-Priest's Rape Trial Hangs On Recovered Memories


POSTED: 6:35 am EST February 2, 2005

BOSTON -- At the height of the Boston Archdiocese sex scandal, Paul Shanley was brought back to Massachusetts in handcuffs, accused of raping four boys while he was a priest at a suburban parish in the 1980s.

But as Shanley's trial winds down this week, there is only one accuser left, and prosecutors are fighting to convince a jury the man's recovered memories are for real.

"It all hinges on the credibility of this one victim," said Michael Cassidy, an associate professor at Boston College Law School.

In a sign of the central importance of recovered memory to the case, the defense plans to call only one witness: a research psychologist who has challenged the science behind recovered memories.

The trial is one of the few criminal cases that prosecutors have been able to bring against priests accused of molesting youngsters decades ago. Most of the priests avoided prosecution because the statute of limitations on their alleged crimes had run out. But when Shanley moved away from Massachusetts, the clock stopped, allowing authorities to arrest him in California in 2002.

Posted by kshaw at February 2, 2005 07:00 AM