February 04, 2005

Jury begins deliberations in ex-priest's child-rape trial

Boston Herald

By Marie Szaniszlo
Friday, February 4, 2005

After six days of emotional, often combative testimony about memory and motive, a Middlesex jury yesterday began deliberations in the child-rape trial of defrocked priest Paul Shanley.

The panel of seven men and five women met for only a half-hour late yesterday afternoon before Superior Court Judge Stephen Neel told them to resume talks this morning about whether Shanley, 74, repeatedly molested a former Sunday school student from 1983 to 1989 at St. Jean's parish in Newton.

The alleged victim, now a 27-year-old firefighter, claims he repressed memories of the abuse until early 2002, when he began having flashbacks after learning that a former classmate had made similar allegations. The Herald does not name alleged sexual assault victims.

Yesterday, the defense called its only witness, Elizabeth Loftus, a University of California at Irvine psychologist, who testified, ``I don't believe there is any credible scientific evidence that years of brutalization can be massively repressed.''

During cross-examination, Deputy First Assistant District Attorney Lynn Rooney noted that Loftus had acknowledged in an article that people ``most certainly'' can forget ``horrible'' events because they are too painful to remember.

Loftus acknowledged she has testified on behalf of such criminals as serial killer Ted Bundy and the ``Hillside strangler,'' even though she is neither a clinician nor an expert on dissociative disorders.

Posted by kshaw at February 4, 2005 05:04 AM