February 16, 2005

Shanley gets 12 to 15 years

Boston Globe

By Joanna Weiss, Globe Staff | February 16, 2005

CAMBRIDGE -- Defrocked priest Paul R. Shanley was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison yesterday before a roomful of alleged clergy sexual abuse victims, who declared the conclusion to his criminal trial a step toward collective justice.

When Shanley, a central figure in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston's clergy sexual abuse scandal, was led away in leg shackles and handcuffs, a brief burst of applause was heard in the Middlesex Superior courtroom. Shanley's accuser, a 27-year-old firefighter, was greeted with hugs, handshakes, and gratitude.

The victim is a hero, said Arthur Austin, 56, who says he was raped by Shanley as a young man. ''What it came down to at last" was the man ''taking on the dragon of Paul Shanley's 40-year reign of terror," Austin said. ''So just by default, he was doing it for the rest of us."

The courtroom was fuller than it was during Shanley's two-week trial, largely with alleged victims like Austin, who could not press charges because of the statute of limitations.

The sentencing was the final chapter in a trial fraught with symbolism and high expectations: a means of catharsis for Shanley's alleged victims, a witch hunt to his supporters.

In a statement read by prosecutor Lynn Rooney, the victim pleaded with the judge for a hefty sentence and suggested that he was asking on behalf of many others.

Posted by kshaw at February 16, 2005 04:07 AM