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Shanley Appears For Bail Reduction Hearing

Aired May 9, 2002 - 11:09   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Now we want to take you to a live scene we're watching unfold in the courtroom. We're hearing that this is the case where the Reverend -- actually, no, we are not going to go to -- Reverend Paul Shanley, here we go.

Reverend Paul Shanley, as you see him there, now dressed in suit and tie, is now in a Cambridge, Massachusetts courtroom where he is asking to have his bail reduced. His bail was set at three-quarters of a million dollars -- let's listen in.


Your honor, the government advanced an argument, an order to request for bail in district court in these cases. Largely supported by reference to matters not for the court, and looking at the nature of the case as it is discussed pursuant to provisions in the statute, chapter 276. section 58, I believe the setting of the bail was both excessive and based on matters not properly referenced before the court.

First of all, your honor, the case in the Newton district court consists of three counts of rape. They have as dates of offenses between the years 1983 to 1990. Diverse dates. The age of the complainant, as I understand it based on the limited discovery I have obtained, were ages 6 through 13. The limited discovery also incorporates reference to other individuals.

The most recent of the allegations would then, therefore, be 7 years old. The allegations, as I can best determine in part (ph), your honor, are essentially uncorroborated by reference to an unknown source.

What little is known about these allegations -- I believe known through a civil proceeding currently underway in this court. And based on what little opportunity I have had to review and gather information on my own suggests that the logistics of the claim make the claim essentially not possible.

I submit, therefore, your honor, that the nature of the case is that it is an assailable (ph) case, and not a very strong case, and also a very old case. At the district court level, the government alluded to other things, things not before the court.

They referenced the potential of other indictments or other criminal cases. And I submit that such an argument is an improper argument, your honor. I presume that the government would not be leading with its worst case. But even if it were leading with less than its best case, the suggestion of the proliferation of cases against the defendant is unavailable, in as much as that would perhaps be significant with respect to a potential range of sanctions that would be applied against him. But given the nature of the cases that exist and his age, hardly have much persuasive effect.

I submit that the government also advanced in support of its claim for bail at the district court level the fact that there were admissions, if you will, or confessions, if you want to characterize them as that, to -- quote -- "sexual improprieties." Both in (ph) other potential criminal cases, and so-called sexual improprieties were no -- there was no further description offered of either of those things. And then, therefore, I submit, your honor, it is improper to ask this court, as it was improper to ask that court, to predicate a decision of bail on that kind of information.

The other issue that was raised before the court -- the district court, Judge Klein -- was the risk of flight, which I refer to, your honor, as the "risk of flight fiction." The case for the risk of flight as advanced by the government was in essence predicated on half-truths, obfuscations and some very old correspondence. By old, I mean '94, '95, '97. And some of that correspondence was attached to the petition that's before the court, and I believe that it's the government's intention here this morning to submit yet additional old correspondence.

And I would very much urge the court to read all of the correspondence submitted by the government in support of their request for bail. Because there is nothing in any piece of correspondence, your honor, that would in any way support that flight to avoid process or flight to avoid prosecution (ph), was never contemplated by this defendant. And, again, I submit that the most recent of these pieces of correspondence is dated in 1997, and the rest are '95 and '94.

A fair reading of the correspondence, your honor -- both that which is already attached to the petition and that which I anticipate the government will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) consideration here this morning -- a fair reading would reveal factors that I submit would be significant to the court in the context of a bail consideration. One is that this is a man of limited means, as might be expected -- a retired priest. This is a man of poor health, whose poor health links him to the insurance requirements so that he can get the medical attention that he needs. So that he is dependent upon the relationship that he has with the church in terms of providing him with his medical coverage.

It references the fact that no matter what the plan or relocation or where the relocation would be to, that he could always be found. And, again, nothing there to suggest that it was to avoid either process or prosecution.

And, finally, what the correspondence would reveal is essentially what I am suggesting in the court: the man's ties to the church because of his physical condition, his retirement needs, his economic situation are such that his dependence meant that the idea of becoming a fugitive was not only not viable but was never even contemplated notwithstanding such arguments as the government would advance based on his correspondence.

In the argument below, the government advanced the suggestion that he was found at an apartment after having been somehow invisible for a period of time. The apartment in question, of course, was an apartment that he has been in essentially continuous residence in for the last three years. That is to say, they found him in his home, where he had been, other than trips to other locations, and never left his home. Continuous residence for three years.

For some period of time while he was in he was in continuous residence there, he was a member of a reserve police unit providing backup assistance to the San Diego Police, division of traffic control, automobile accidents and other types of service. Clearly the use of radio, cruiser -- marked cruiser, facilitate his voluntary assistance to the San Diego Police Department.

His residential history consists of the three years uninterrupted essentially in San Diego. There was a period of time where he resided in New York for a few years. He was in California for a few years before that. Somewhere along the line he spent a year in Vermont.

But from 1931 to 1990, your honor, he was a resident of the commonwealth of Massachusetts. He has a brother who is still a resident of the commonwealth of Massachusetts. He has a dozen nieces and nephews who are all largely in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. Plus his extended family, his friends, his colleagues are all in Massachusetts or in the greater Northern area.

He went to school at Dorchester, he went to BU, he went to seminary in Massachusetts. Your honor, the man has substantial roots here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

I submit, your honor, that rarely has the advent of a criminal case or criminal prosecution been as heralded for as long and as loudly as this one has been. Paul Shanley's response to the loud and long heralding of the advent of the criminal prosecution was to go home, stay home, and hire a lawyer in Boston. I made my first appearance on behalf of Paul Shanley on April 17. And what I would submit is arguably a related civil proceeding.

I made my next appearance on behalf of Paul Shanley on May 1, the day before he was arrested. In fact, it was a topic of discussion with Judge Sanders (ph) at that hearing. The potential that Paul Shanley would have to sit and be deposed with respect to the issues that had been raised therein.

I have been representing Paul Shanley for more than a month now. Your honor, Mr. Shanley is a 71-year-old man, limited means, bad health and absolutely no criminal record in those 71 years. He is a man who by reference to our bail statute would be a candidate for personal recognizance.

I am not unmindful of any of the extraneous factors that come to bear on him as he stands before this court, and I don't ask that the court be oblivious either. Therefore, to the extent that the risk of flight is in any sense perceived to be legitimate in any degree, certainly this court has the wherewithal to fashion terms and conditions that would virtually eliminate that risk, including sureties (ph) and the bracelet program, which I'm sure the court is more familiar with than I am.

But the fundamental issue, your honor, as I stand here appealing what amounts to the (ph) decision of the district court, is that the government's request for bail in this case is based largely on matters not properly before this court. And an absolute fiction about the risk of flight.

He came home, he stayed home, and he hired a Boston lawyer. There is no risk of flight, your honor. I submit he is a for personal recognizance. And I submit that he is willing to abide to whatever terms and conditions this court deems appropriate. That his presence before this court is never in doubt.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mondano, thank you very much. On behalf of the commonwealth?

LYNN ROONEY, PROSECUTOR: Good morning, your honor. This is District Attorney Lynn Rooney on behalf of the commonwealth.

Your honor, first, with respect to the questions raised by Mr. Mondano as to the strength of the commonwealth case, while it is true that there is currently one complainant who is before the court with respect to the charges, this is an ongoing investigation. We are continuing to interview people and to determine whether there will be additional charges brought against this defendant, which I believe is a relevant consideration in terms of what potential penalties he may be facing down the road. As to the weakness of the commonwealth case, I would indicate to your honor that the people we have thus far interviewed strongly corroborate the complaining witness in the case that is currently before this court.

Mr. Mondano has indicated that there are little facts before the court with respect to the underpinnings of this complaint. It is a case that went on for several years, from 1983 to 1990. During that time period, the alleged victim was abused by this defendant on a weekly basis. It happened in different places at St. Jean's Church in Newton in the rectory, in the confessional, in the bathroom in the rectory, as well as in the church itself, in the pews within that church.

At the present time, we are aware of repeated incidents of anal rape, of oral rape, both performed on the defendant by the alleged victim and in the reverse. In addition to numerous indecent A and B's (ph) which occurred in the pews in the church. He was repeatedly told by this defendant that, "If you tell anyone, no one will believe you." And this is the premise under which this child operated for many, many years until very recently coming forward. It is true that there was a great deal of media surrounding Father Paul Shanley in the months preceding this complaint. However, repeatedly it was reported that the statute of limitations had run and that it was unlikely that there would be criminal process. The fact of the matter is quite true, your honor, that the statute of limitations has run in the majority of cases, and only a handful of people who have very recently come forward are within the statute of limitations and could be potentially charged with.

There have been admissions documented by the defendant that are within documents received by my office from the archdiocese. Those admissions were made by this defendant in 1994, 1997, and 1999. They are general admissions. They basically say that he admits to sexual misconduct with minors in the past.

We are in the process of determining who exactly those minors are. I will tell the court that the majority of documents that have been provided to us have been redacted by the archdiocese. So we do not know the names of these minors yet. But we do know that it is in the records, there are admissions and they were made by this defendant.

The situation has changed. He is now facing three to five (ph) felonies. But even before this, there is numerous documentation with respect to, first, not only the defendant, but the church wanting to keep the address of this defendant secret. There are numerous notations in these records stating his address has changed, this is where you should send his monthly stipend, but do not make this address public.

The notation: "Paul Shanley will move. He will get a mailbox, but otherwise it will be a secret." In addition, on February 14 of 1994 another change of address was provided and it notes: "The knowledge of this address is for internal use only. It is not to be made public."

It goes on in these documents with several letters written by the defendant. In October of 1994 there is a memo within the archdiocese with respect to this defendant. And it notes: "Because he has lived out of state for several years, he feels he has nothing to return to if he comes to Boston." That was in 1994.

In 1994 he didn't want to come back to Boston because there was nothing here to return to. We are now in 2002. I question as to whether or not that situation has gotten any better.

In these letters of January, 1994, he writes to Reverend John McCormack (ph) -- quote -- "You laughed when I suggested moving to Costa Rica or Mexico, but it might be worth considering. It might be cheaper and it might allay the concerns of the victims." He knows about allegations and he's thinking about leaving; he's thinking about fleeing.

September 19, 1995, there is a memo which is memorializing a conversation that Reverend Brian Flatley (ph) had with Paul Shanley -- quote -- "we discussed his options. Father Shanley became guarded at this point. He acknowledges that he will survive. He recognizes that he could not live in New York on the salary the archdiocese provides. He has a plan to live in an unnamed country with a post office box in the states which would secure anonymity for him. Given his resourcefulness and independence, I think this is probably a good plan for him."

Paul Shanley responds to that memorandum by Reverend Flatley (ph) by saying, "I wish you would find a more felicitous phrase for "he became guarded." It sounds as though I was being less than forthcoming with you, when the reality is that I was simply trying to preserve your ability in the future to honestly deny to the world that you knew where I was residing. The countries were Mexico or Guatemala."

In a letter that is dated June 7, 1995, which we recently found, it indicated, "I am exploring the possibility of moving to a South American country where expenses would be diminished." On October 15 of 1997, when writing to Reverend William Murphy (ph), "If you need to stash a priest, I could probably help."

Your honor, we are aware that on March 20 of this year this defendant left the country. He traveled to Thailand; he did, in fact, return. We are however aware that he has a close personal friend, a former priest who remains in Thailand and, in fact, is still in there.

We would ask that the bail remain the same and that if this defendant should post bail that conditions be imposed. That he surrender his passport, that he be ordered to remain within the commonwealth of Massachusetts. That he have no contact with children under the age of 16, as well as with no contact with any of the victims or witnesses in this case before the court.

Finally, your honor, with respect to Mr. Mondano indicating that this defendant took action and retained counsel, I would note for the court that it is obvious through the records I have reviewed that as far back as April of 1995 Paul Shanley retained local counsel of the firm of Hanfey and King (ph). They represented him throughout the years with respect to several civil suits that have been ongoing over the years between the archdiocese, Paul Shanley and other people within this commonwealth who have complained against him.

So it is not unusual, it is not new. He seems to have been always represented by local counts (ph) with respect to the civil suits. For all of those reasons, your honor, I would ask that you deny this petition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

The bail petition is under advisement. The parties will be notified by a written order at a later date. The court is in recess.

HARRIS: And with that, we have heard both the cases made for and against the personal recognizance or bail here for the Reverend Paul Shanley.

Also listening with us is Cynthia Alksne, who is in our Washington bureau, I'm assuming. Cynthia has been listening to this as well and is going to join us to give us her insight on what exactly we have heard.

We heard the defense lawyers in this particular case make a case for the state here having what they call a subtle case here. What do you think -- which side was most convincing here?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE: Well, I thought the defense, while pushing for personal recognizance, knows that he's never going to get personal recognizance. That means no bail, essentially. That's just go ahead and walk out the door with no assurance whatsoever. That's not going to happen in this case.

What they're really hoping for is that the bail will be lowered from $750,000 to something like $250,000. And then his family can post a 10 percent bond and he can get out of jail given his age. That's what they're really hoping for.

On the other hand, the prosecutor here had a very workman-like explanation of why he should not get bail -- the bail should not be lowered. He's facing three life felonies. She quoted extensively from him talking about fleeing, which is very rare. You know we stand up in bail cases and say all the time, you know, this guy could really flee. He has the means, he has the motive.


ALKSNE: But how often is it that he's actually written it down that that's what he's going to do?

HARRIS: Yeah, that's a good point.

ALKSNE: Pretty rare.

HARRIS: Good point -- good point. Well which one do you think will actually carry the most weight with the judge in this case? I mean the judge is going to be taking some time before he makes a decision. Do you expect the decision to be made quickly or what?

ALKSNE: I expect that it will be made reasonably quickly. He'll issue a written order and will be quoting from the prosecutor's comments and the letters that I'm sure she is submitting to him. My guess is the bail will not be reduced, and if it is reduced, it will not be reduced significantly.

Also, the prosecutor asked for certain things that I'm sure the judge will do. For instance, surrender his passport, electronic monitoring, those types of things. No judge in Boston right now is going to be the one that lets a serial abuser and rapist of children in the confessional booth run to Costa Rica.

HARRIS: Also, don't forget the prosecution mentioned the fact that there were other investigations right now into other past activities, even though the statute of limitations may actually have run out as well.

ALKSNE: That's right.

HARRIS: All right. Cynthia Alksne, appreciate it. Good to see you.

ALKSNE: Good to see you.

HARRIS: Have a good one. Hope to talk to you again about something more pleasant, of course.




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