Clergy abuse scandal: Priest Shanley guilty of child rape

A court in the &to=http://' target=_blank>United States has convicted defrocked Roman Catholic priest Paul Shanley of raping a boy at a Massachusetts church in the 1980s.

The victim, now 27, lowered his head as the verdicts were read out in the Cambridge court on four charges including rape and fondling.

Shanley, at the centre of a scandal which shook the Boston archdiocese, reportedly showed no emotion. The 74-year-old could face a maximum sentence of &to=http:// ' target=_blank>life in prison, says BBC News.

The jury took nearly 15 hours to find Shanley guilty of all charges: two counts of &to=http://' target=_blank>child rape and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child.

Clergy abuse victims present for the verdict said they felt vindicated, with some saying their pursuit of justice had been stymied by the statute of limitations.

"So many of us had to count on this case because we could not go to court," said Ann Hagan Webb, the New England coordinator of SNAP, a group of people who say they were abused by priests, informs Reuters.

Shanley was arrested in California at the height of the scandal in May 2002, and brought back to Massachusetts in handcuffs _ charged with raping four boys from his parish in Newton, outside Boston. All four claimed they repressed memories of the abuse, then recovered them when the scandal broke.

But the case ran into numerous problems. In July, prosecutors dropped two of the accusers in what they said was a move to strengthen their case. Then, on the day jury selection began, they dropped a third accuser because they were unable to find him after a traumatic experience on the witness stand at a hearing last fall.

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