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Jury finds defrocked priest guilty of repeatedly molesting parishioner

Jury finds defrocked priest guilty of repeatedly molesting parishioner

Defrocked priest Paul Shanley, the most notorious figure in the sex scandal that rocked the Boston Roman Catholic archdiocese, was found guilty Monday of repeatedly molesting a boy at his church during the 1980s. The conviction on all four charges gives prosecutors a high-profile victory in their effort to bring pedophile priests to justice for decades of abuse at Roman Catholic parishes around the country. The victim, now 27, put his head down and sobbed as the verdicts were announced after a trial that turned on the reliability of what he claimed were recovered memories of the long-ago abuse. The jury of seven men and five women deliberated about 13 hours over five days before reaching its verdict. Shanley showed no emotion as he stood next to his attorneys. Shanley, 74, faces up to life in prison for two counts each of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child. He is to be sentenced February 15. Judge Stephen Neel immediately revoked Shanley's $300,000 bail. During the trial, the accuser broke down on the stand as he testified in graphic detail that Shanley pulled him out of Sunday morning catechism classes and raped and groped him in the church bathroom, the rectory, the confessional, and the pews starting when he was 6. The man, now a firefighter in suburban Boston, said that he repressed his memories of the abuse but that they came flooding back three years ago, triggered by news coverage of the scandal that began in Boston and soon engulfed the church worldwide. The lone accuser in the criminal trial was one of at least two dozen men who claimed they had been molested by Shanley, who was a parish priest in Newton, a suburb about 10 miles west of Boston. The archdiocese's personnel records showed that church officials knew Shanley publicly advocated sex between men and boys, yet they continued to transfer him from parish to parish. Prosecutors said the accuser had no financial motivation in accusing Shanley of rape in the criminal case because he received a $500,000 settlement from the archdiocese nearly a year ago. They also cited his three days on stand, during which he sobbed and begged the judge not to force him to continue testifying.

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