October 24, 2003
BOSTON — For more than a year, the Rev. Paul Shanley has been a central figure in the church abuse scandal that has plagued the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Boston.
It appears he will remain in the spotlight for some time.
While about 95 percent of the 552 alleged abuse victims who sued the archdiocese have accepted an $85 million settlement offer from the church, a few of Shanley's accusers are holding firm and
refusing to sign onto the deal.
Instead, they have decided to continue pursuing legal action in the courts, where they hope to prove that Shanley abused them while church leaders ignored their allegations and tried to cover up the
Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., whose firm represents about half the victims in the settlement, said 10 of his clients have rejected the settlement offer, all of them claiming abuse by Shanley. They
include the Ford family, whose lawsuit opened the floodgates of thousands of internal church documents that exposed misdeeds of dozens of abusive priests.
The reluctance of Shanley's accusers to join the settlement means the abuse saga is far from over for the church. Lawyers for the plaintiffs and the church plan to meet with a judge on the case
on November 14.
MacLeish said Shanley "will continue to be the centerpiece, but we're not just talking about him. The defendants are the people who failed to supervise him, and put him into parish ministry."
Gregory Ford claims he was repeatedly raped, beginning at age 6, by Shanley at St. Jean's Parish in Newton. Shanley also faces criminal charges for allegedly raping four boys, including Ford,
from 1979 to 1989.
Teresa Shanley, the Rev. Shanley's niece, said her uncle was only a central figure in the church scandal because plaintiff's attorneys had made him so. She believes there are other priests
more deserving to be in the spotlight than Shanley.
"We look forward to a trial, whether it be civil or criminal. We look forward to that, so that a lot of inaccuracies that have been put out there can be corrected. The appropriate place for that is
in the courtroom, not necessarily in the media," she said.
The Rev. Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the archdiocese, said church attorney Tom Hannigan Jr., whom Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley brought in to help settle the cases, reported that 95 percent of
victims had accepted, and that he expected that to rise to 99 percent. Some of the victims received extensions past Thursday's deadline.
The settlement, reached last month, required at least 80 percent of the plaintiffs to agree to it for it to take effect.
He declined to comment about Shanley's cases going to trial. –Sapa-AP
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