Shanley visited child-sex haven in Thailand

By Christopher Cox and Robin Washington
Boston Herald
May 7, 2002

The Rev. Paul Shanley traveled to Thailand in March and spent as much as a month in a vacation spot infamous for its child-sex trade, likely meeting up with fellow priest and longtime companion John J. White, according to Thai immigration documents obtained by the Herald.

Shanley, 71, who was arrested at his San Diego home May 2 and waived rendition to the Bay State last week, arrived by plane last night and was held at the Newton police lockup. His district court arraignment on three counts of rape of a child is set for today in Cambridge.

The complaint was filed by Paul Busa, 24, who claimed that Shanley over several years pulled him out of CCD classes at Newton's St. Jean's-St. John's Parish in the 1980s and raped him.

Robert Sherman, a lawyer representing Busa and several of his classmates in civil cases against Shanley and the Archdiocese of Boston, said the priest's international sojourn demonstrates he is a flight risk.

"The fact that he's been out of the country should have an impact on any bail decision," he said. "I'm surprised that he actually came back. It reinforces the district attorney's fear that if notified in advance of the criminal complaint there was a high risk that he would flee."

Frank Mondano, the lawyer representing Shanley, did not return a call seeking comment.

According to information on file with Thai immigration authorities, Shanley entered the kingdom on March 20, estimating his stay at 30 days. The records do not show his date of departure.

About a week later, several sources told the Herald, White left his residence as a retired priest at St. Mary's in Billerica for an open-ended trip to Thailand.

St. Mary's pastor, the Rev. W. James Nyhan, did not reveal White's destination but said then, "His time of return is not known."

The records show White did make the trip, but took a more circuitous route, entering the country from Cambodia on April 13 and passing through the small town of Aranyaprathet, a dusty overland crossing shunned by foreigners, who usually fly directly to Bangkok.

A source who knew of White's trip to Thailand and who has known both priests since they served together as street ministers at Roxbury's Warwick House in the 1970s said she suspected the two would meet in the country.

"I'm not surprised," she said, though, like Sherman, she did express wonderment over why Shanley would return.

The two priests also served together at Stoneham's St. Patrick's Parish in the 1960s, and later operated a San Bernardino, Calif., bed and breakfast catering to a gay clientele in the 1990s.

Both priests are retired - a designation that Shanley entered as his occupation on his entry form but that White left blank.

As to the purpose of his visit, Shanley checked "tourist," and listed as his address in Thailand the "Paradise Condo, Pattaya."

Located about 50 miles south of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya is a former high-brow beach resort that has become infamous for its sex industry.

"Pattaya is notorious for underage girls and little boys," said Byron Bales, a longtime Southeast Asia investigator.

"It is renowned for a lot of British scum and Russian mafia. It is quite a place. It's a cesspool."

Once a pristine getaway for wealthy Thais, Pattaya became an R & R hotspot for American GIs during the Vietnam War and has decayed into a land of polluted beaches with a large expatriate population, according to Bales and other sources.

It has hundreds, if not thousands, of female, male and transvestite prostitutes, as well as underage boys and girls, Bales said.

On his form, Shanley indicated he was traveling alone and this was not his first time in Thailand - a disclosure consistent with several sources' reports about both men.

Shanley indicated he arrived on flight "0065," a number that may correspond to Singapore Airlines' Flight 65 between Singapore and Bangkok.

White too listed his purpose as tourism. But unlike Shanley, he gave his permanent address as the Thai provincial capital of "Chonburi - Pty," not his Billerica parish.

A recent edition of the "Let's Go!" guide to Thailand suggests there is little reason to remain long in Chon Buri, a dreary stop on the road to Pattaya.

After American Airlines Flight 582 landed at Logan International Airport last night, Shanley deplaned on the tarmac, where he was met by state and Newton police and fitted with a bulletproof vest.

One passenger bristled at the five-star security Shanley received.

"They should have walked him right through here," the woman said as she collected her luggage. "If I'd known he was going to be on the plane, I probably would have taken another one."

Shanley's arraignment today comes a day after archdiocesan officials announced yet another embarrassing discovery of internal documents about Shanley which a court ordered turned over to Sherman and his partner, Roderick MacLeish, on behalf of client Gregory Ford weeks ago.

In early April, the lawyers received an initial 818 pages of damning documents showing the church knew of child molestation accusations against Shanley dating back to 1967.

On April 25, the archdiocese discovered another 800 pages, tucked into the file of a different unnamed priest.

"This is unacceptable," MacLeish said in a letter to archdiocesan lawyer Wilson Rogers Jr. yesterday. "There is an outstanding court order which requires their production. If there are other records, they should be produced immediately."

Also yesterday, Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley announced she was resigning from Bernard Cardinal Law's blue ribbon sexual abuse policy panel.

Coakley, in a letter to commission chairwoman Maureen Bateman and in a press release, said the decision came as a result of the Shanley arrest and prosecution, which created an "appearance of conflict" of interest for the DA.

Coakley could not be reached for comment last night.

Jack Sullivan and Laurel J. Sweet contributed to this report. Robin Washington may be reached at


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