IMAGE: Paul Shanley Child Abuse Trial Continues
Jodi Hilton  /  Getty Images
Defrocked priest Paul Shanley listens to a procedural discussion Wednesday during his trial on child rape and assault charges in Cambridge, Mass.
updated 1/28/2005 7:01:01 PM ET 2005-01-29T00:01:01

The wife of the man who has accused defrocked priest Paul Shanley of raping him as a child testified Friday that he had night sweats and curled up in the fetal position on the floor after recovering memories of the alleged abuse.

The woman took the witness stand shortly after her husband finished more than 10 hours of testimony over three days, much of it under grueling and graphic cross-examination by Shanley’s attorney, Frank Mondano.

The man finished his testimony Friday after the judge refused to spare him from a third day of questioning.

The man adamantly stood by his claims of abuse before stepping down from the stand.

Late Thursday, with the jury out of the room, the man told the judge that he could not bear to continue answering Mondano’s intense and sometimes graphic questions. But the man returned Friday to resume his testimony.

His breakdown raised the specter that the case would collapse, because he is the lone remaining accuser in the case against Shanley, 74, one of the central figures in the Boston archdiocese’s clergy sex-abuse scandal. Three other accusers were dropped from the case by prosecutors.

Friday, before the jury entered the courtroom, Mondano asked Judge Stephen Neel to declare a mistrial, contending that the man’s emotional outbursts during his testimony would taint jurors and prejudice them against his client. Neel rejected the request.

Accuser denies anti-gay bias
The man, now a 27-year-old firefighter, says Shanley raped and molested him at a Newton parish, beginning when he was 6. He did not remember the abuse until early 2002, when he heard a friend’s account of being abused as a boy by Shanley.

His wife testified that before they were married, he became distraught during a telephone conversation when she told him about a newspaper article in which the friend told of the alleged abuse. She was living near Boston at the time, and her husband was serving at an Air Force base in Colorado.

“He said he was going to be sick, he had to go, he couldn’t talk,” she said.

She said he returned to Massachusetts four days later. On the first night of his visit, she said, he became upset again.

“He woke up. He was very agitated and restless. He had soaked the sheets with sweat,” she said, her voice cracking. “He got on the floor, curled up in a ball. He shook.”

“I tried to hold him, but he wouldn’t let me,” she said.

Prosecutor Lynn Rooney questioned the man again, asking him about his admission that he had used a derogatory term for gays to describe Shanley. Mondano had sought to portray the man as biased against homosexuals.

Rooney asked why he used the term in his journal, he responded that he was angry “because of what [Shanley] did to me.”

When she asked if he was prejudiced against gay men, he said, “absolutely not,” then added, “I do have a prejudice against pedophiles, though.”

That remark was stricken from the record after Mondano objected.

Shanley’s case became one of the most notorious of the Boston scandal because the archdiocese’s personnel records showed that church officials knew that he publicly advocated sex between men and boys but continued to transfer him from parish to parish. His is also one of the few cases in which prosecutors have been able to bring charges against a priest accused of molesting boys decades ago.

Allegations of repeated assaults
The man testified that Shanley would pull him from Sunday morning catechism classes at St. Jean’s parish and sexually abuse him in the church pews, confessional, rectory and bathroom. He said the abuse continued until 1989, when he was 12.

Plaintiffs in the hundreds of lawsuits filed over the scandal have made similar claims that they spiraled into lives of drug abuse and depression after being molested by Catholic priests.

Mondano has said the man made up his story to cash in on the multimillion-dollar settlements paid to victims of the Boston scandal. He also has said he would call expert witnesses to debunk the science behind repressed memories.

Shanley faces three charges of raping a child and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child. He could get life in prison if convicted.

Most of the priests accused in hundreds of lawsuits avoided prosecution because the alleged crimes were committed so long ago that charges were barred by the statute of limitations. But because Shanley moved out of Massachusetts, the clock stopped. He was arrested in California in 2002.

The trial is expected to resume Monday.

Other developments

  • The archbishop of St. Louis said Friday that three priests accused of sexual abuse years ago had been defrocked, including one who was blamed in the alleged suicide of an ex-Marine he was said to have molested in youth. Archbishop Raymond Burke said he launched the proceedings last year against Michael McGrath, Donald Straub and Robert Yim in light of “credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against them.” None of the men has been criminally charged.
  • A priest in Mesa, Ariz., was sentenced to a year in jail Friday for aggravated assault stemming from accusations that he abused an altar boy. The man, the Rev. Karl LeClaire, also must register as a sex offender.

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