Cambridge, Mass. — Defrocked priest Paul Shanley, the most notorious figure in the sex scandal that rocked the Boston Archdiocese, was convicted Monday of repeatedly raping and fondling a boy at his Roman Catholic church during the 1980s.
The conviction on all four charges gives prosecutors an important victory in their effort to bring pedophile priests to justice for decades of abuse at parishes around the country.
Shanley, 74, could get life in prison for two counts each of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child when he is sentenced Feb. 15. His bail was revoked and he was led off to jail.
The victim, now 27, put his head down and sobbed as the verdicts were announced after a trial that turned on the reliability of what the man claimed were recovered memories of the long-ago abuse. Shanley showed no emotion as he stood next to his lawyer.
The jury deliberated 13 hours over three days.
During the trial, the accuser broke down on the stand as he testified in graphic detail that Shanley pulled him out of Sunday morning catechism classes and molested him starting when he was 6 and continuing for six years.
The accuser said that he repressed his memories of the abuse but that they came flooding back three years ago, triggered by news coverage of the scandal that began in Boston and soon engulfed the church.
Shanley, once a long-haired, jeans-wearing "street priest" who worked with Boston's troubled youth, sat stoically for most of the trial.
The accuser, now a firefighter in suburban Boston, was one of at least two dozen men who claimed they had been molested by Shanley. The archdiocese's own personnel records showed that church officials knew Shanley publicly advocated sex between men and boys, yet continued to transfer him from parish to parish.
Frank Mondano, Shanley's lawyer, said he will appeal.
In a statement, the archdiocese said: "It is important for the Archdiocese of Boston, in this moment, to again apologize for the crimes and harm perpetrated against children by priests who held the trust and esteem of families and the community."