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Accused Priest Waives Extradition

A priest at the epicenter of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic church agreed Friday to return to Massachusetts to face charges that he repeatedly raped a boy — sometimes in a church confessional — over a seven-year period.

The Rev. Paul Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the sex scandal engulfing the Boston archdiocese, waived his right to fight extradition at a brief court hearing.

The defendant, who has been publicly silent since the allegations surfaced, did not make any statements in the appearance, except to say, "Certainly," when asked to sign the extradition documents.

Police officers from Massachusetts are expected to fly to San Diego to collect Shanley in the next couple of days, said Emily LaGrassa, spokeswoman for the Middlesex district attorney's office. Shanley, 71, is being held without bail.

He is accused of repeatedly raping a boy over a seven-year period in St. Jean Parish in Newton, Mass., where he served as a priest until the church transferred him to California.

He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

Newton residents reacted with anger at the former pastor, but also with relief that he was in custody.

"I'm excited no one else will be hurt by him," said Maria Leo, a 36-year-old Catholic mother of two who knows two people who have accused Shanley of abuse.

According to a source close to the case, the criminal charges against Shanley stem from allegations made by Paul Busa, 24, a former Air Force military policeman. Busa went public with allegations last month, saying he had repressed all memory of the abuse until hearing about a childhood friend who accused Shanley of molesting him.

Neither Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley nor Busa's attorney, Roderick MacLeish, would confirm that Busa's allegations were the basis for the criminal charges.

Gregory Ford, 24, and Ford's parents also have filed a suit claiming Shanley repeatedly raped Ford when he was a child.

Busa, who declined to comment on the charges, has said previously that he quit his job in the military after suffering a physical and mental breakdown.

"In the beginning, I questioned myself a lot," Busa said. "I thought, 'Was I making this up?' The way my body was reacting, I knew it had happened."

Shanley surrendered Thursday at an apartment overlooking San Diego's Balboa Park. His arrest was the latest development in a scandal that has tarnished Boston's highest-ranking Catholic leader, Cardinal Bernard Law.

In a statement, archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said the church hopes the arrest would "contribute to the healing" of victims and their families.

Documents from Shanley's personnel files detailed Shanley's advocacy of sex between men and boys as well as his transfer to several parishes by the archdiocese, despite allegations of abuse.

Coakley said the alleged victim, who is now 24 years old, said Shanley abused him from 1983 to 1990, when he was between 6 and 13 years old.

The victim, whom Coakley did not identify, told police Shanley took him out of his church instruction class on an almost weekly basis and took him to the bathroom, across the street to the rectory or to the confessional at St. Jean Parish Newton, where the sexual abuse took place.

The victim told police that Shanley told him, "if he told, no one would believe him," the prosecutor said.

Coakley's office is looking into several other "credible" allegations of abuse by Shanley from victims who came forward after widespread media reports in the last few weeks.

Documents released a month ago show archdiocese officials had received reports of Shanley's attendance at a 1979 meeting in Boston at which the North American Man Boy Love Association was apparently created. Despite receiving dozens of allegations of abuse, officials did not warn a California diocese when Shanley moved there in 1990.

Shanley and another former priest, John L. White, bought a gay-themed resort in Palm Springs in December 1990. Shanley left the San Bernardino Diocese in 1993.

In 1997, Shanley and White sold the four-room Cabana Club Resort. A neighboring hotel owned by White — the Whispering Palms — was sold in 1995.

Shanley moved to San Diego while White returned to Boston.

Shanley had not been heard from since the molestation allegations against him surfaced in March. He was fired from his volunteer job at the San Diego Police Department after the sex abuse allegations surfaced in Boston.

Cardinal Bernard Law, head of the Boston Archdiocese, was aware of the allegations against Shanley, according to documents released by the Massachusetts attorney general.

Coakley said in response to a question that she hadn't ruled out filing charges against anyone who had assisted or overseen Shanley, but she added: "I still can't see it (happening)."

Last week, the archdiocese released an additional 1,600 pages of records in the case. They included Shanley's own writings on his life as a street priest, including how he frequently visited clinics for treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Gregory Ford, 24, and his parents Paula and Rodney, are suing the archdiocese and Cardinal Law for negligence for allowing Shanley to be posted to the Newton parish where Ford was allegedly repeatedly abused and raped as a child.

The family is seeking the release of still more records: Shanley's psychiatric and other medical assessments that were ordered by the Roman Catholic archdiocese during his tenure.

Attorney Frank Mondano, who represents Shanley, said Wednesday that his client never waived his right to keep psychiatric and other medical assessments private. He also said the archdiocese never had the records, though they are referenced in archdiocese correspondence.

In other developments:

  • The Archdiocese of Boston said Thursday it has backed out of its settlement agreement -- estimated to be worth $15 million to $40 million -- with 86 victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan because the deal would essentially strip the archdiocese of resources.

    The members of the finance committee rejected Cardinal Bernard Law's request to sign off on the deal, and said the settlement would "leave the Archdiocese unable to provide a just and proportional response to other victims," according to a statement from the archdiocese.

  • The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., has placed a priest on indefinite leave because of "issues of possible sexual impropriety."
  • A fifth-grade teacher in New Jersey returned from a paid leave he took after reports surfaced that he had impregnated a 15-year-old girl while he was a Catholic priest in Connecticut.

    Joseph Michael DeShan, a teacher at the Eleanor Rush Intermediate School in Cinnaminson, N.J., was allowed to return after the school district learned that no charges could be filed against DeShan in Connecticut, and that he had violated no administrative rules, Cinnaminson Schools Superintendent Sal Illuzzi said.

  • Forty men now say they were abused by the Rev. Joseph Birmingham, a Boston priest known for his flashy black convertible. He died in 1989.
  • A priest who served prison time last year for trying to entice an underage boy into sex via the Internet was accused in a lawsuit filed Tuesday of molesting an altar boy at a Connecticut church in the late 1980s.
  • A chaplain at a Catholic hospital in St. Louis resigned after the Illinois diocese that recommended him for the job revealed he was accused of sexually abusing a minor years earlier, the Archdiocese of St. Louis said.
  • Seven men sued the Archdiocese of Louisville, claiming they were sexually abused as children by priests two decades ago or before. The men claim the archdiocese knew three priests engaged in a pattern of sexually abusing children. Cecelia Price, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said they had not seen the lawsuit.
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