CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The man accusing defrocked priest Paul Shanley (search) of sexually abusing him as a child finished his testimony Friday, despite begging the judge a day earlier to spare him from a third day of questioning.
The man adamantly stood by his claims of abuse before stepping down from the stand after 10 hours of testimony, much of that under grueling cross-examination by Shanley's attorney, Frank Mondano.
Late Thursday, with the jury out of the room, the man told the judge he couldn't bear to continue answering Mondano's intense and sometimes graphic questions. But the man returned Friday to resume his testimony.
His breakdown raised the specter that the case would collapse, since he is the lone remaining accuser in the case against the 74-year-old former priest, one of the central figures in the Boston Archdiocese's (search) clergy sex abuse scandal. Three other Shanley accusers were dropped from the case by prosecutors.
On Friday, before the jury entered the courtroom, Mondano asked the judge to declare a mistrial, contending the man's emotional outbursts during his testimony would taint jurors and prejudice them against his client. Judge Stephen Neel (search) rejected the request.
The man, now a 27-year-old firefighter, says Shanley raped and molested him at a Newton parish, beginning when he was 6. He didn't remember the abuse until early 2002, when he heard a friend's account of being abused as a boy by Shanley.
After Mondano completed the cross-examination, prosecutor Lynn Rooney questioned the man again, asking him about his admission that he had used a derogatory term for gays to describe Shanley. Mondano had sought to portray the man as biased against homosexuals.
Rooney asked why he used the term in his journal, he responded that he was angry "because of what (Shanley) did to me."
When she asked if he was prejudiced against gay men, he said, "absolutely not," then added, "I do have a prejudice against pedophiles, though."
That remark was stricken from the record after Mondano objected.
Shanley's case became one of the most notorious of the Boston scandal because archdiocese personnel records showed that church officials knew he publicly advocated sex between men and boys, yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish. His is also one of the few cases in which prosecutors have been able to bring charges against priests accused of molesting boys decades ago.
The man testified that Shanley would pull him from Sunday morning catechism classes at St. Jean's parish and sexually abuse him in the church pews, confessional, rectory and bathroom. He said the abuse continued until 1989, when he was 12.
Plaintiffs in the hundreds of lawsuits filed over the clergy sex abuse scandal have made similar claims that they spiraled into lives of drug abuse and depression after being molested by Catholic priests.
Mondano has said the man made up his story to cash in on the multimillion-dollar settlements paid to victims of the Boston scandal. He also has said he would call expert witnesses to debunk the science behind repressed memories.
The accuser's wife recalled from the stand a phone conversation they had on Feb. 11, 2002, when he was stationed at an Air Force base in Colorado and she was his girlfriend.
She said she called to tell him about a newspaper article in which the accuser's friend Greg Ford described being molested by Shanley. Earlier in his testimony, the man said that conversation triggered his own memories of the abuse to come flooding back.
"He said he was going to be sick, he had to go, he couldn't talk," the wife said. She broke down during her testimony, and the judge called a recess. Ford was one of the three other accusers in the original case.
Shanley faces three charges of raping a child and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child. He could get life in prison if convicted.
Most of the priests accused in hundreds of lawsuits avoided prosecution because the alleged crimes were committed so long ago that charges were barred by the statute of limitations. But because Shanley moved out of Massachusetts, the clock stopped. He was arrested in California in 2002.