February 06, 2005

Supporters, accusers have stake in priest trial

Telegram & Gazette

AP Legal Affairs Writer

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Defrocked priest Paul Shanley was one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church, but his trial has been a low-key affair, drawing only a smattering of spectators on any given day.

A few Shanley supporters have shown up, offering him a handshake or an occasional cup of coffee during breaks in the testimony. Some of his alleged victims have been there, too, listening as his now-adult accuser testified the once charismatic priest would take him out of Catholic education classes to molest him.

And what they see is not the long-haired vigorous "street priest" once hailed for befriending the downtrodden, but a frail old man wearing a hearing aide remaining stoic as the most graphic of allegations unfolded over the course of the two-week trial. The jury resumes deliberations Monday.

"I didn't want to be afraid any more," said one man who went to see Shanley for counseling 30 years ago at age 15, when he felt confused after his first homosexual experience.

Posted by kshaw at February 6, 2005 01:37 PM