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Former Priest Indicted on Charges

Jun 21, 2002 | AP

Retired Rev. Paul R. Shanley has been indicted for child rape and indecent assault, becoming the latest Boston Roman Catholic figure to face charges resulting in the pedophile priest scandal.

Shanley, 71, has been jailed since May when he was arrested and returned from California to face three counts of child rape, which were included in Thursday's indictment. He has pleaded innocent to those charges and was being held on $300,000 bail.

"These latest revelations will undoubtedly open up the deep and painful wounds of those who have been abused in the past," Cardinal Bernard F. Law said in a statement.

The allegations against Shanley span from 1979 to 1989, when he was at St. Jean's parish in Newton, a suburb of Boston. The indictment includes 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery.

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said the investigation into Shanley remains open.

Prosecutors said Shanley would take one of the boys, who is now 24, out of religious classes and abuse him in the rectory, the bathroom of the church or a confessional.

Prosecutors have refused to identify any of the victims.

"In an ideal world we would not have sexual abuse of children. In a better world, adults would protect children," prosecutor Martha Coakley said.

Shanley became a key figure in the scandal earlier this year when the archdiocese released personnel files indicating that church officials had received complaints about Shanley dating to 1967, and that he had made comments expressing advocacy for sexual relationships between men and boys.

Law said in a letter distributed to parishes in May that he did not become aware until 1993 of any abuse allegations against Shanley. State Attorney General Thomas Reilly ( news, bio, voting record) has convened a grand jury to investigate whether Law and other church leaders put priests in situations where they could sexually abuse minors.

The nationwide church scandal erupted after church documents made public in Boston revealed that Law knew of accusations against former priest John Geoghan but still transferred him between parishes. Geoghan is serving up to 10 years in prison for molesting a boy, and has been accused of abuse by 130 people.

In his statement released Thursday, Law said the archdiocese owes "a debt of profound gratitude to abused persons who bring such acts into the light."

"My sorrow is compounded whenever such acts involve the betrayal of trust by a priest, For this I apologize from the bottom of my heart," Law said.

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