But a lawyer for priest Paul Shanley, defrocked by the Vatican last year, questioned the timing and validity of those memories and said the defense would call expert witnesses to debunk the science behind so-called repressed memories.
The alleged victim is expected to take the stand Wednesday in the second day of Shanley's trial on child rape charges.
In opening statements Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Lynn Rooney said Shanley told the victim, then 6, ``If you tell, no one will believe you,'' before molesting him.
``Those memories were buried deep inside'' until media coverage of the scandal in Boston awakened them, Rooney said.
Shanley's lawyer, Frank Mondano, said the accuser made up the allegations to get in on the multimillion-dollar settlements for victims in the scandal.
Mondano said the man contacted lawyers in the Greenberg Traurig firm, which represented the majority of plaintiffs in an $85 million clergy sex abuse settlement with the Boston Archdiocese, ``either before he recovered his memory or within minutes thereafter.''
``(The accuser) had his personal injury lawyer in place,'' Mondano said, adding the man had his civil lawsuit ``ready to roll'' shortly after recovering his memory.
Rooney acknowledged the man received $500,000 in a civil settlement with the archdiocese last year, but she said his willingness to testify publicly about being repeatedly raped by Shanley shows he is motivated by more than money.
Shanley became a lightning rod for public anger over the scandal after personnel documents were released showing church officials knew that he advocated sex between men and boys, yet they continued to transfer him from parish to parish.
The case originally involved allegations by four alleged victims, but it has since been whittled down to the one man, now 27, who says he was sexually abused by Shanley at a church in Newton, outside of Boston, between 1983 and 1989, when he was between the ages of 6 and 12.
Rooney said the boy was taken out of religious education classes and raped by Shanley in the church bathroom, the pews, the rectory and in the confessional.
Shanley sometimes summoned the boy to the rectory to play cards. ``The defendant would say, 'You lose, take off your clothes,''' and then molest him, Rooney said.
Shanley's is one of just a handful of criminal cases that prosecutors have been able to bring to trial against priests accused of molesting young parishioners decades ago.
Most of the priests named in hundreds of civil lawsuits avoided criminal prosecution because their crimes were committed so long ago that charges were barred by the statute of limitations. But because Shanley moved out of Massachusetts, the clock stopped. He was arrested in California in 2002.
Prosecutors called several witnesses on Tuesday, including New Hampshire bishop John McCormack, who investigated allegations of sexual misconduct as a former lieutenant to Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law. McCormack testified that Shanley moved to California in 1990.
Security was tight for Shanley's trial, with spectators walking through a metal detector outside the courtroom, in addition to the screening at the courthouse entrance. During a recess, a Shanley supporter had a verbal confrontation with another man in the hallway and the two were separated by a court officer.
A jury of eight men and eight women is considering the case against Shanley. Four will be appointed as alternates following the testimony, which is expected to last about two weeks