Priest pleads innocent to charges he raped boy over 7-year period

Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A retired priest brought back to Massachusetts from San Diego to face accusations he repeatedly raped a boy during the 1980s pleaded innocent yesterday and was ordered held on $750,000 cash bail.

The Rev. Paul Shanley, 71, had recently been in Thailand and might flee if released from jail, prosecutor Lynn Rooney said at an arraignment for one of the most notorious figures in the sex scandal engulfing the Boston Archdiocese.

Shanley is charged with three counts of child rape. Prosecutors said Shanley took the alleged victim, now 24, out of religious education classes at St. John Parish in Newton and raped him in various locations, including the rectory, the bathroom and the confessional, when the boy was 6 to 13.

The alleged victim came forward within the past two weeks after reading news reports about the Shanley case. Police, fearing Shanley would flee the country, moved quickly to arrest him in San Diego last week after a TV station located him.

Shanley was returned to Massachusetts under tight security Monday, wearing a bulletproof vest.

During the arraignment, defense attorney Frank Mondano had asked that Shanley be released on his own recognizance. The lawyer immediately requested that a higher judge review the bail decision. The review will take place tomorrow.

Mondano said the priest had neither the means nor the intention to leave the country. Shanley had long intended to return to Massachusetts to face the allegations but had been hiding out from the media, Mondano said.

"He's been avoiding the press diligently," the lawyer said.

In addition to setting bail, Judge Dyanne Klein ordered Shanley to surrender his passport and avoid contact with children under 16.

Shanley is one of the priests at the center of the scandal that has led to calls for Cardinal Bernard Law's resignation.

Documents released in a lawsuit showed that archdiocese officials knew Shanley had been accused of child molestation, that he advocated sex between boys and men, and that he had contracted a venereal disease. But it did little more than move him from one assignment to another.

The archdiocese also did not warn the Diocese of San Bernardino in California when he moved there in 1990. Shanley retired in 1993.

Yesterday, the prosecutor read excerpts of several letters to church officials in which Shanley talked about fleeing the country.

Rooney also read letters she said referred to apparent past attempts by church officials to help Shanley hide.

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