Priest’s lawyer questions abuse memory

/ Source: The Associated Press

A man who accuses defrocked priest Paul Shanley of molesting him as a child recalled the incident only after contacting a law firm that handled hundreds of clergy sex abuse cases, Shanley’s lawyer said Friday.

“I submit that the reason it looks like a textbook case (of recovered memory) is because it came right out of a textbook,” attorney Frank Mondano said at a pretrial hearing. “People are trying real hard to obfuscate the fact that the cart came before the horse.”

Mondano said court documents show the alleged victim contacted the Boston law firm of Greenberg Traurig before he claimed to have recalled the molestation by Shanley, a key figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal.

The man says he remembered the abuse after the scandal broke in the Boston Archdiocese in early 2002.

Shanley’s lawyer is seeking to question the accuser before the start of Shanley’s criminal trial Jan. 18. There was no immediate ruling by Judge Stephen Neel.

Assistant District Attorney Katherine Folger said the issue should be decided by a jury. “I think it is time to move forward,” she told the judge.

Shanley, now 73, was arrested in 2002 after four men accused him of molesting them between 1979 and 1989, when they were altar boys at a parish in Newton. He has been free on bail while awaiting trial.

All but one victim dropped from case
All four accusers were initially involved in the criminal case; over the past year, prosecutors dropped two alleged victims and plan to drop a third, leaving just the man with the recovered memory.

Mondano said the man claims he did not contact attorneys until after he recalled the alleged abuse Feb. 11, 2002. But Mondano said documents filed with the court — including a journal the man began Feb. 1, 2002, about the alleged abuse — demonstrate he’d been in contact with lawyers before the date he claims to have recalled the molestation.

The man didn’t formally retain lawyers from Greenberg Traurig until Feb. 20, but an attorney’s fee schedule turned over to the court was dated Feb. 11, Mondano said.

Greenberg Traurig lawyer David G. Thomas said the fee schedule mistakenly bore an earlier date.

“We strongly and unequivocally disagree with Mr. Mondano’s position,” Thomas said after the hearing. The firm represented about half the 550 alleged victims who settled with the Boston Archdiocese for $85 million in 2003.

Media seek to name victims
Also Friday, Neel overturned an order issued by another judge Tuesday that barred news organizations from identifying alleged victims in the case. He gave prosecutors until Monday to file an appeal, and in the meantime, the media will continue to be banned from naming any accusers.

The Associated Press, The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald had gone to court to overturn the order.

Prosecutors contended the remaining accuser might refuse to testify if he is publicly identified, even though he had spoken out publicly about his allegations and been identified in numerous articles for several years.

The AP has a policy of not identifying rape victims without consent.