Boston Church Settles Lawsuits over Accused Rapist

By Greg Frost
Reuters [Boston MA]
Downloaded April 5, 2004

BOSTON (Reuters) - Accused pedophile priest Paul Shanley was a "human wrecking ball" who likely molested hundreds of people, a lawyer for four of the cleric's alleged victims said on Monday as he announced a settlement of their lawsuits against the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

The settlement came on top of the landmark $85 million payout the archdiocese made last year to hundreds of people who say they were abused by its priests.

Financial terms of the latest deal were not disclosed. But attorney Roderick MacLeish, who represents the four plaintiffs, hinted that the amounts were large.

"One case ... is the largest amount ever provided in a sexual abuse case in Massachusetts, and certainly one of the largest nationally," MacLeish told a news conference.

In announcing the deal with the church over Shanley, an elderly priest at the heart of some of the most shocking allegations in a pedophilia scandal that enveloped the archdiocese two years ago, MacLeish presented what he called new details pertinent to Shanley's criminal trial.

Shanley, who was arrested in California in 2002, brought back to Massachusetts and ultimately released on $300,000 bail, has pleaded not guilty to raping and sexually assaulting a number of boys at a Boston-area church. Three of the boys involved in Monday's settlement are among the accusers in the criminal case, which is expected to come to trial this year.

Word of Monday's settlement came exactly two years after lawyers obtained internal documents showing that the archdiocese was well aware of Shanley's sexual views when it promoted him to lead a parish in 1983.

Those documents, released under order from a judge, showed that the archdiocese knew in 1979 that Shanley had attended a meeting of men involved in sexual relationships with male youngsters -- a meeting that gave rise to NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association.


"Paul Shanley was a human wrecking ball throughout eastern Massachusetts for decades," MacLeish said. He added he had located witnesses who could testify about Shanley's attacks on young boys that included rape and bestiality and he was willing to give this information to the prosecutor in the criminal case.

MacLeish showed reporters a videotaped deposition of Brendan Moriarty, who said that in the 1980s he was a classmate of Greg Ford -- one of the four men who settled lawsuits against the church.

Ford's father, Rodney, attended Monday's news conference and grimaced as Moriarty recalled how their teacher routinely sent Greg and other boys to see Shanley when they misbehaved.

"There were times when (Ford would) get in trouble fairly early in class where he'd be gone for maybe as long as 40, 45 minutes. Other times it would be you know... 15, 20 minutes. And there were other times when (Ford) didn't return at all to class," Moriarty said.

Rodney Ford, who at one point faced accusations that he -- not Shanley -- had abused Greg, thanked Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley for his personal role in bringing about a settlement.

"One of the worst days I've ever had to live with was when they accused me of abusing my own son," a tearful Ford told reporters. "Father Shanley abused my son and other kids, and it's a disgrace, and we will continue to pursue Father Paul Shanley until justice has been served."

O'Malley, who succeeded Cardinal Bernard Law as head of the Boston archdiocese, said he does not believe "any suggestion" that Rodney Ford molested Greg.

"The archbishop has been struck by the devotion of the Ford parents to their son (and) hopes that this settlement will bring some measure of healing to the Ford family," the archdiocese said in a statement.

Shanley's criminal defense attorney, Frank Mondano, could not be reached for comment.


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