BOSTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The highest court in Massachusetts has refused to overturn a Catholic priest's sexual assault conviction in a case that turned on recovered memory.
The Supreme Judicial Court unanimously upheld the decision by the trial judge to allow evidence of repressed memory to be admitted at the trial of the Rev. Paul Shanley, The Boston Globe reported.
"In sum, the judge's finding that the lack of scientific testing did not make unreliable the theory that an individual may experience dissociative amnesia was supported in the record, not only by expert testimony but by a wide collection of clinical observations and a survey of academic literature,'' Justice Robert Cordy wrote in the court's opinion.
Repressed memory has long been controversial. Some psychologists argue victims of sexual abuse, especially children, deal with it by completely repressing the memories, which may be recovered years later in therapy.
Others describe it as "junk science." Experiments have also shown that false memories can be created that feel just as valid as real ones and cannot be distinguished from real memories.
Shanley was accused in 2002 by a young man who said he had been molested as a child 20 years earlier. The priest was convicted in 2005.