||Survivor: `I just
felt a tremendous sense of relief'
By Kevin Rothstein
February 8, 2005
Paul Shanley was convicted of molesting one boy yesterday, but the verdict
gratified the dozens who claim the perverted ex-priest hurt them during
a decades-long reign of sexual terror.
``I just felt a tremendous sense of relief when I heard the word guilty,''
said Phil Saviano, head of the local chapter of Survivors Network for
those Abused by Priests, who knows many alleged Shanley victims.
Shanley's profile was one of the highest among priests exposed during
the church sexual-abuse crisis that rocked the Boston archdiocese. Many
alleged victims, already fearful their stories were doubted, felt their
credibility depended on a successful prosecution, Saviano said.
``It seems like everybody's hopes and fears were tied into the Shanley
case, and I was frankly worried for survivors emotionally and how they
were going to respond if Shanley was in fact acquitted,'' he said.
During Shanley's criminal trial for raping and fondling a young parishioner
for years during the 1980s, beginning when the boy was 6, the hazy state
of memories recalled by the now-27-year-old victim only heightened the
anxiety that other victims felt.
|Robert Costello, consoles John Harris, who says he was molested
by Paul Shanley. (Staff photo by Mark Garfinkel)
And as Shanley became a poster boy of sorts for the priest abuse scandal,
a guilty verdict became all that more important.
``To many victims of clergy pedophilia, not only was Father Shanley on
trial today but so were the supervisors of the Archdiocese of Boston,''
said lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who represents alleged victims of Shanley
and other priests in civil suits.
Nationally, Shanley ranks ``pretty high in the constellation of clergy
molesters,'' said David Clohessy, national director of SNAP.
``An acquittal would have certainly made it tougher for many victims to
come forward,'' he said.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Boston did not address the verdict
directly but noted the trial revived the suffering of priest abuse victims.
``It is important for the Archdiocese of Boston, in this moment, to again
apologize for the crimes and harm perpetrated against children by priests
who held the trust and esteem of families and the community,'' the statement