High Court Agrees to Hear Shanley Appeal
Former Priest Convicted of Child Rape

January 26, 2009

[with video]

BOSTON — Convicted of child rape in 2005, former priest Paul Shanley's motion for a new trial was denied by the trial judge last November. But now, in agreeing to hear Shanley's appeal, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has indicated the issues in the case are important enough to bypass the Appeals Court. Activists who have worked at exposing and stopping child sexual abuse say it is an upsetting development, especially for the survivors.

High Court To Hear Shanley Appeal

Video: High Court To Hear Shanley Appeal

"It must be so upsetting that they would have to, once again, go over all of this in their mind, remember all of this. It has to make them extremely cynical about whether or not it's possible to get justice," said Robert Ott, president of the Boston Council of Voice of the Faithful.

Newscenter 5's Amalia Barreda reported that the appellate battle will be over the validity of repressed memory. Three of the four original accusers against Shanley were dropped from the case by the prosecution. The remaining victim told the jury he was repeatedly raped by the former priest at a Newton parish in the '80s. He testified his memory of the attacks came flooding back to him two decades later.

On Monday, Shanley's new attorney released a statement calling the Supreme Judicial Court decision a "significant step in a lengthy fight." Attorney Robert Shaw said "the allegations in this case rely entirely upon ...'repressed memory'... and that should have never been admitted at trial."

"We've known for many, many, many years about this man's history. He's been very public in saying that he endorses sex between men and boys. It clearly underscores how difficult it is to bring a pedophile to justice," said Ott.


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