BOSTON – The trial of defrocked priest Paul R. Shanley (search) will proceed without the testimony of one of his most outspoken accusers, a man who received a reported $1.4 million settlement after saying he recovered memories of abuse as a child, the man's father said.
Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal that began in Boston in 2002, faces multiple charges of child rape and indecent assault for allegedly raping four boys at a parish in Newton. But he will not be prosecuted for the allegations of Gregory R. Ford (search), the Boston Herald reported Thursday.
Ford's father, Rodney, confirmed that his son would not testify.
"The prosecutors didn't want the case to get bogged down with all Greg's medical records," he told the newspaper. "So they decided to go forward this way. In the interest of Greg's health, we agreed."
Legal experts say Ford's testimony would be hurt by his contradictory statements about when he first recovered the memory of the alleged abuse by Shanley.
Shanley, 73, became a focal point of the scandal after attorneys for Ford and other alleged victims forced the church to release internal records showing Shanley was shuttled from parish to parish despite allegations of abuse. Twenty-one alleged victims filed affidavits in the civil lawsuit claiming they were molested or raped by Shanley.
Among the records were documents indicating that colleagues warned church officials as early as 1967 that Shanley had had inappropriate sexual contact with boys, and that he had attended a forum with people who later went on to form the North American Man-Boy Love Association (search), an organization that advocates sex between men and boys.
The criminal case will now rely heavily on the testimony of Gregory Busa, a friend of Ford's, the Herald quoted sources as saying. Busa, Ford, Anthony Driscoll, and a fourth man who was not named in court documents say they were repeatedly raped by Shanley at St. Jean's Parish in the early 1980s.
Prosecutors were expected to announce the move at a court hearing on Thursday, when a judge was scheduled to hear Shanley's motion to dismiss all charges based on his assertion that the statute of limitations has expired.
Emily LaGrassa, a spokeswoman for prosecutor Martha Coakley, declined to say whether the Ford allegations would be separated into a separate complaint.
"As of this minute, all four victims are still involved," LaGrassa said. But she noted that prosecutors told the court last October that they might not go forward with all the charges.
Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, said he did not know what the prosecution intended to do, but added that "clearly, the Ford case would create the greatest concern" for prosecutors.