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Friday, 21 June, 2002, 00:53 GMT 01:53 UK
US priest faces fresh sex charges
Paul Shanley (left) at a West Coast extradition hearing
Paul Shanley has been behind bars for a month
A grand jury in the United States has indicted a Roman Catholic priest on 16 fresh counts of child rape and indecent assault involving four boys.

The charges against Father Paul Shanley, 71, relate to alleged incidents of abuse while he was working as a priest in a Boston suburb between 1979 and 1989.

He has already been behind bars for a month, charged with three counts of child rape, involving one child, between 1983 and 1990 in the Boston area.

Mr Shanley has pleaded not guilty to those charges. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of life.

The new charges could increase pressure on senior Church officials in Boston, who are currently the subject of a separate grand jury inquiry focusing on allegations that they kept priests accused of sexual abuse in active ministry.

The men who made the accusations that led to the new indictment were between six and 15 years old when the priest allegedly took them out of religion classes to other rooms and proceeded to rape and assault them.

The District Attorney in the case said the grand jury was able to return an indictment in part because the allegations of the four men - now aged between 24 and 32 - fell within the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases.

Previous charges

Mr Shanley was previously alleged to have sexually abused a boy in a bathroom, a rectory and a confessional when the child was between six and 13 years old.

The alleged victim is said to have come forward to file the first criminal complaint against Mr Shanley after reading news reports that the Boston archdiocese knew of the allegations against the priest.

Around 250 priests have resigned or been suspended since the child sex scandal hit the Church in January.

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

The Church has been rocked by recent abuse revelations

Boston cardinal quits

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