CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A central figure in the sex abuse scandal in the Boston Archdiocese was indicted Thursday on multiple counts of child rape and indecent assault for allegedly abusing four boys.
The allegations against the Rev. Paul Shanley span from 1979 to 1989, when he was at St. Jean's parish in Newton, a suburb of Boston. The indictment, the first against the retired priest, includes 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery.
"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's attorney, Frank Mondano, said the indictments came as no surprise. He had not seen them as of Thursday evening, but said his client would fight the charges.
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 and a confessional.
Attorney Roderick MacLeish, who represents the alleged victims, said three of them were in the same catechism class at St. Jean's. The fourth doesn't know the others, he said.
"Were it not for the statute of limitations in Massachusetts for child rape, there would be many, many more prosecutions," MacLeish said.
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 Law said in a statement.
He added: "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."
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 has convened a grand jury to investigate whether Law and other church leaders put priests in situations where they could sexually abuse minors.
Prosecutors have refused to identify any of Shanley's alleged victims. But a source close to the case has told The Associated Press that the initial charges stem from allegations made by Paul Busa, a former Air Force security officer in Colorado.
Shanley already faces accusations from the family of Gregory Ford, 24, who claims the priest raped him repeatedly when he was a boy. Ford's family has also sued Law, accusing him of negligence in failing to protect Ford from Shanley.
Ford's father said the indictment is a double-edged sword.
"You hate to say that you're happy because it's never a happy day when you talk about your own child being abused and raped and molested," Rodney Ford said. "But I'm glad that at some point there can be some resolution to this case."