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April 05, 2005

Former priest pleads innocent to child rape charges

April 5, 2005 [Associated Press]

BOSTON— A defrocked Catholic priest pleaded innocent to child rape charges Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court and was released on $5,000 bail.

Robert Burns, 56, of Concord, N.H., is charged with six counts of rape of a child under 16, and seven counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

Prosecutors said Burns molested five boys while he was assigned to parishes in the Jamaica Plain and Charlestown sections of Boston between the mid-1980s and early 90s

Burns was convicted in 1996 of indecent assault of a child and was imprisoned for three years in New Hampshire. He was defrocked in 1999.

As conditions of his bail, Burns was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with children, report to a probation officer every week, and to surrender a passport if he has one, according to the Suffolk County district attorney's office.

Burns must return to court May 17 for a pretrial hearing.

The alleged abuse occurred while Burns was a priest assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Jamaica Plain and St. Mary's in Charlestown.

Posted by Nancy at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

Church abuse play wins Pulitzer

April 5, 2005

A play about child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church has been awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Doubt, by Oscar-winning writer John Patrick Shanley, won the prize just two days after the death of the Pope.

The play is about a priest accused of molesting a boy. It comes after a damaging scandal in the US Catholic Church that implicated 4,000 priests.

In other Pulitzer awards, Marilynne Robinson won the fiction prize and Ted Kooser picked up the poetry accolade.

Mr Shanley won an Academy Award for writing the screenplay for Moonstruck, starring Cher, in 1988.

Stars including Harvey Keitel and David Hasselhoff turned up when Doubt opened on Broadway last week after an acclaimed off-Broadway run.

Set in 1964 in The Bronx, where Mr Shanley grew up, it sees a nun confront a well-liked parish priest who she believes is abusing a 12-year-old boy.

"The play very much relates to religion," he said. "And the parable is a key way of talking about issues, ideas and moralities."

Last year, a report commissioned by the Church said more than 4,000 US Roman Catholic priests had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years in cases involving more than 10,000 children, mostly boys.

In the Pulitzer fiction category, Marilynne Robinson triumphed for Gilead, her National Book Critics Circle-winning novel about a dying Iowa preacher.

Journalism expose

US poet laureate Ted Kooser won the poetry prize for Delights and Shadows, while composer Steven Stucky picked up the music award for Second Concerto for Orchestra.

Other awards in the arts section were won by non-fiction books by David Hackett Fischer, Mark Stevens, Annalyn Swan and Steve Coll.

In the journalism section, the Los Angeles Times won the public service award for its expose of deadly medical problems and racial injustice at an inner-city hospital.

The paper won another award for international reporting for its coverage of Russia, while The Wall Street Journal also picked up two prizes.

Posted by Nancy at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)