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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
Priest to face Boston rape charges
Alleged victim Gregory Ford (c) sits with his father (l) with a picture of Rev Paul Shanley in the foreground
An alleged victim says he was abused for years
A Roman Catholic priest at the heart of a sex abuse scandal in the United States is to return to Boston to face charges.

Paul Shanley was arrested on Thursday in southern California on suspicion of three counts of child rape.

The Reverend Paul Shanley
Paul Shanley is alleged to have been protected by Cardinal Bernard Law
He appeared in court on Friday to waive his right to refuse extradition to the state of Massachusetts, where the alleged incidents took place between 1983 and 1990.

The development came as the Boston Archdiocese's finance council announced that it was rejecting a proposed multimillion-dollar settlement with 86 sexual abuse victims of another priest, John Geoghan, who has since been defrocked.

The council ignored Cardinal Bernard Law's plea to approve the agreement and said that paying it would "consume substantially all the resources of the Archdiocese".

David Smith, chancellor of the Archdiocese, said that Cardinal Law "expressed his deep regret at the vote".

Last week the Vatican held an emergency meeting with American cardinals to discuss accusations that it covered up abuse by priests.

First charges

Cardinal Law, America's most influential cardinal, has been accused of knowingly protecting Mr Shanley.

The defendant, 71, will be held without bail until he is picked up by Massachusetts authorities, a San Diego Superior Court judge ordered.

Mr Shanley did not make any statement during his brief court appearance, when the extradition documents were signed.

Shanley's church career
Ordained 1960
Served as street priest till 1979
Appointed to Newton, Mass. 1980
Promoted to pastor 1984
Transferred to California 1990
The criminal charges were the first to be filed against the retired priest, who faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

But he is the focus of a civil suit brought against the archdiocese of Boston and Cardinal Law, who are alleged to have failed to protect children from being abused by priests.

The alleged victims include Greg Ford, now 24, who says he was repeatedly abused by Mr Shanley while the priest was serving in the parish of Newton, near Boston.

Cardinal Law is due to give a sworn statement in the case next month.

Mr Shanley was a charismatic priest who combined a love of rock'n'roll with controversial statements advocating sex between men and boys.

His work with street children in California gave him ready access to young children.

New law

On Friday Massachusetts passed a bill requiring clergy to report cases of suspected abuse to state social workers.

Cardinal Bernard Law
Cardinal Law has come under pressure to resign for reassigning priests accused of paedophilia
The law was signed by acting Governor Jane Swift. Now congregational leaders, clergy and church youth workers have 30 days to submit any information about child abuse - regardless of when it took place - to the Massachusetts Department of Social Services.

Withholding information constitutes a misdemeanour punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

However, any information gained in the Catholic confessional or through confidential channels observed by other faiths does not need to be handed over.

In the US, almost 200 Catholic priests have been suspended in 18 different states since the child abuse scandal broke in January.

Pope John Paul II has said there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.

See also:

02 May 02 | Americas
US priest arrested over rape claims
02 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
Catholic child abuse fears widen
26 Apr 02 | Americas
US priest helped children take drugs
10 Apr 02 | Americas
Second Boston priest in abuse claims
25 Apr 02 | Europe
Paedophile priests face expulsion
25 Apr 02 | Americas
Analysis: US cardinals get message
04 Apr 02 | Americas
Vatican sued in sex abuse cases
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