29 May 2008

Convicted Priest seeks new trial, challenges victim's repressed memories

Associated Press - May 28, 2008

BOSTON (AP) — A defrocked priest at the center of the clergy sex abuse crisis in the Boston Archdiocese is making a bid for a new trial by challenging his victim's repressed memories.

Defrocked priest Paul Shanley is serving a 12- to 15-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2005 of repeatedly raping and fondling a boy at a Newton parish in the 1980s.

In a motion for a new trial, Shanley claims his former lawyer did not properly challenge the repressed-memory evidence that helped convict him. The victim testified he did not remember the sexual abuse until 2002, when they came rushing back as the sex abuse scandal unfolded in the media.

Shaw argues that Shanley's trial attorney should have presented evidence that the theory of repressed memory is challenged within the scientific community.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said the verdict was just and that Shanley has not raised sufficient reason for a new trial.

"The concept of recovered memory by victims of abuse has been accepted by both the scientific and legal communities, as well as the jury who convicted Mr. Shanley after hearing the full evidence in this case," Leone said. "We remain confident in the jury's verdict."

Judge Stephen Neel, who presided at Shanley's trial, is scheduled to hear arguments in Suffolk Superior Court on Thursday.

Shanley was known in the 1960s and 1970s as a "street priest" who reached out to troubled children and gays. He became a central figure in the abuse scandal after church records released in 2002 showed that officials were aware of sexual abuse complaints against him as early as 1967 but continued to transfer him from parish to parish.

At least two dozen men claim to have been molested by Shanley. Many reached settlements with the Boston Archdiocese.

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