CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A man who says he was molested as a boy by Paul Shanley (search), the now-defrocked priest at the center of the Boston Archdiocese (search) sex scandal, tearfully testified Wednesday that Shanley would pull him from catechism classes and rape and fondle him in the church pews, confessional and rectory.
His voice cracking, a hand over his face, the 27-year-old man also said Shanley would wait for him in the bathroom with the lights off. He recalled seeing Shanley silhouetted against the hallway light, his hands outstretched in a priestly pose.
"He'd unzip my pants," the accuser said. "Sometimes he would kneel down and try to teach me how to perform oral sex."
He said the abuse began at age 6 and continued until 1989, when he was 12.
Shanley's lawyer has said the man made up the story to cash in on the multimillion-dollar settlement paid to victims of the Boston (search) sex scandal.
The testimony came on the second day of Shanley's rape trial, one of the few cases in which prosecutors have been able to bring charges against priests accused of molesting boys decades ago.
Shanley, 74, is one of the central figures in the scandal that erupted in the Boston Archdiocese three years ago and quickly spread across the nation. Personnel records were released showing church officials knew that Shanley advocated sex between men and boys, yet they continued to transfer him from parish to parish.
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.
The case hinges on the concept of repressed memory, in which past experiences are suppressed in the subconscious until a trigger brings them back.
Shanley's accuser said news reports about the scandal in Boston triggered his 20-year-old memories of being molested. But Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, has questioned the timing and validity of those memories and said he would call expert witnesses to debunk the science behind repressed memories.
During cross-examination Wednesday, Mondano implied that the man's account of the abuse was tailored to conform to those of the other alleged victims, who were dropped from the case by prosecutors.
"It's fair to say that at various points in time you came to remember pretty much what they came to remember, correct?" Mondano asked the accuser.
"Yeah," the man said. "[But] they were my memories."
Shanley's accuser testified that three years ago, when he was a military police officer stationed at an Air Force base in Colorado, he got two calls from a girlfriend who said she had seen articles about Shanley. He said one of the stories was about "a very good friend of mine" who claimed to have been raped by Shanley.
"I started crying," the witness said. "I dropped the phone. I started having all kinds of memories. ... I felt like my world was coming to an end."
Asked by a prosecutor to identify Shanley in the courtroom, the man glared at the former priest and pointed.
In the confessional, the accuser said, "We'd just talk about all the sins a second-grader could have," then Shanley raped him.
"It felt awful," he said. "He told me nobody would ever believe me if I told anybody."
Prosecutors have said Shanley's modus operandi was to take the boys from catechism classes, saying he needed to discipline them, then sexually abuse them.
Earlier Wednesday, however, a woman who taught at Shanley's parish outside Boston testified that she could not remember the priest pulling students from her classroom.