Massachusetts Clergy Sexual Abuse: Defrocked Priest Paul Shanley Challenges Conviction for Indecent Assault & Battery and Child Rape

Experts are watching to determine the outcome of a clergy sex abuse case involving defrocked priest Paul Shanley. Shanley was convicted of child rape and indecent assault and battery for abusing a 27-year-old man when he was just a young boy.

The victim would go on to receive a $500,000 Boston child sex abuse settlement for his personal injuries. He accused Shanley of repeatedly abusing him when he was a Sunday school student in Newton. He said that the abuse incidents, which began when he was 6, took place in the rectory, the pews, the confessional, and the boys’ room. He said it wasn’t until the clergy sex abuse scandal occurred that he remember what happened to him.

Three other men that Shanley was initially accused of sexually abusing were later dropped from the criminal case. All four men said that they didn’t remember the abuse until years later when they recovered memories they had repressed.

Now, Shanley is questioning his conviction and the validity of repressed-recovered memories. While some experts believe that it is indeed possible to recover memories of child sex abuse, others are questioning whether such memories are reliable.

Yet there are many cases involving victims who were unable to remember the molestation incidents until years after they happened. Some child sex abuse victims were too scared to report the abuse at the time or may have been too young to even understand what was happening to them. As a result, they waited until they were older to come forward.

The Catholic Church in the US has spent over $2.5 billion in clergy sex abuse settlements. Over 550 sex abuse victims were in the Boston archdiocese.

Sexual Abuse
Regardless of how old you were when the sexual abuse happen, sex abuse is traumatic, violating, and can cause serious damage to a victim. Some people may have to spend years in therapy undoing the harm that was done to them. They may turn to drug addition, alcoholism, or suffer from eating disorders to cope. There may be grounds for filing a child sexual abuse lawsuit against the perpetrator.

Convicted ex-priest challenges repressed memories, AP, September 9, 2009
‘Repressed memory’ at issue in defrocked priest’s appeal, Boston Globe, September 9, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Archdiocese of Boston

Differences In Recovered Memories Of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Science Daily, February 4, 2009
Our Boston sexual abuse litigation lawyers represent clients throughout Massachusetts.

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