Disgraced priest Paul Shanley seeks new trial, challenges repressed memories

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September 10, 2009, 12:20 pm
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(NECN: Brad Puffer, Boston, Mass.) - Defrocked priest Paul Shanley is appealing his rape conviction to Massachusetts' highest court. Shanley is serving 12-15 years for raping a boy at his Newton parish in the 1980s. Defrocked priest Paul Shanley is serving 12 to 15 years for raping a child. The biggest evidence at trial in 2005 – the victim’s memory of what happened, memories he only recalled two decades later. Robert Shaw, Shanley’s Trial: "We have an individual that says he was repeatedly abused, forgot it, walked into the abuse again and then for twenty years later was completely oblivious." Attorney Robert Shaw argues expert testimony about repressed memories should never have been allowed at trial. He says the theory of repressed memories has been debunked by hundreds of psychiatrists. And he is asking the Supreme Judicial Court to grant a new trial. "Because you have a citizen who was prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned and incarcerated based on inadmissible evidence." But several justices questioned that assertion, suggesting the theory is Debatable – but certainly not settled.. Loretta Lillios, Assistant District Attorney, Middlesex County: "None of the experts say this does not exist, they say the evidence doesn't prove it but all of that was before the jury." David Frank of Lawyers Weekly says it is an important case, not just because it is so well known, but because it could decide whether repressed memories will be allowed as evidence in the future. David Frank, Lawyers Weekly: "You’ve got a very high profile defendant raising issues that are in some ways unprecedented in Massachusetts."

Tags: archdiocese, rape, catholic, clergy, priest, sexabuse, paulshanley
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