February 19, 2005

Robbery suspect seeks leniency, cites abuse by priest

Boston Globe

By Joanna Weiss, Globe Staff | February 19, 2005

To hear his family describe it, Paul Callahan snapped at some point as a youth, and everything went south.

He started drinking, then doing heroin. He served time for a string of odd, nonviolent bank robberies -- he would hand tellers a threatening note, then flee with the money in a taxicab.

Now his lawyer says Callahan, 32, is coming to terms with the reason his life fell apart: the Rev. Robert Burns, who he says sexually abused him for years at a Catholic church in Jamaica Plain.

In an unusual legal move, Callahan is pleading for a lenient sentence for a pair of new robbery charges, saying that abuse, abetted by the Archdiocese of Boston, set him off on a life of crime and left him with little chance of treatment.

Callahan's lawyer, Robert E. Kelley, wrote to the court that Callahan did not brandish a weapon in any of his cases. He said his client apparently did not rob for violence or money -- at the time of the latest alleged crimes, Callahan had $83,000 in the bank.

Posted by kshaw at February 19, 2005 09:41 AM