The trial against Paul Shanley, a 73-year-old defrocked Catholic priest facing three counts of child rape and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child, begins tomorrow. These charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. Shanley remains one of the only priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston indicted in the abuse scandal uncovered in 2002. With many of the allegations centering around events which took place decades before, legal experts are predicting a difficult case for prosecutors, reports The Washington Post.
In addition, only one of the original four alleged victims will testify against Shanley, a third accuser having been formally dropped from the case last week. Jury selection has further complicated the suit as many potential jurors struggle with impartiality. "It's what we've all experienced over the last three years," a prospective juror told Superior Court Judge Stephen Neel. "I have this slant now where I just look at the archdiocese and I shake my head," reports The Boston Globe. Despite these difficulties, a jury of eight women and eight men was settled upon on Thursday.
Victims' advocates remain hopeful, viewing an acquittal as devastating. According to the The Washington Post, David Clohessy, national director of the Survivor's Network of Those Abused by Priests, stated, “If Shanley walks, it will cause already deeply wounded victims, who mustered the strength to come forward, to feel hopeless."
Media Resources: Associated Press 1/24/05; Boston Globe 1/19/05; Washington Post 1/18/05
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .