Psychologists didn't interview Paul Shanley before OK'ing his release
By Jennifer Miller
July 28, 2017
|This undated identification photo released via the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board website shows Paul Shanley, released Friday, July 28, 2017, from the Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater, Mass. Shanley, now 86, was a figure in the Boston Roman Catholic priest sex abuse scandal. He was released after completing a 12-year sentence for the rape of a boy in the 1980s.|
Convicted child rapist and former Catholic priest Paul Shanley — released from a Massachusetts prison today — was never interviewed by the two state-contracted psychologists who determined that, thanks to his advanced age and medical status, he did not meet the legal criteria for civil confinement as a sexually dangerous person, a Herald review of their evaluations found.
“Mr. Shanley is now 86 years of age, and current research would suggest that recidivism rates for sexual offending by individuals that age are extremely low,” psychologist Mark Schaefer wrote in his report.
“Mr. Shanley . ... would benefit from treatment,” psychologist Katrin Rouse Weir wrote in her report. “. ... However, his age and his health impact his ability to act out on his sexual arousal and his interest in sexual matters,”
Shanley was released from Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater early this morning after completing a 12-year sentence for the rape of a boy in the 1980s. The state’s sex offender registry lists Shanley as a Level 3 offender, meaning he is most likely to re-offend, and states he will be living in an apartment in the small town of Ware in western Massachusetts. He will remain on probation for 10 years.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan's office hired Schaefer and Weir to evaluate Shanley to see if he met the legal criteria for civil confinement as a sexually dangerous person. Both found he did not, according to their reports, which were released by the Middlesex DA’s office today.
Meghan Kelly, spokeswoman for the Middlesex DA's office, confirmed today that neither clinician spoke to Shanley before writing their reports.
“I did not interview Mr. Shanley,” wrote Weir in her report, dated July 24. “He cannot be compelled to meet with me at this stage in the statutorily defined process.”
The evaluation by psychologist Schaefer, dated July 26, makes no reference to any interview of Shanley.
Both psychologists referenced Shanley's age in their evaluations.
“There is ample documentation to suggest that Mr. Shanley meets the psychiatric criteria for Pedophilic Disorder, which is felt to be an enduring and chronic condition,” Schaefer wrote in his partially redacted report. “. ...However, Mr. Shanley is now 86 years of age, and current research would suggest that recidivism rates for sexual offending by individuals that age are extremely low.”
For his report, Schaefer reviewed documents including police reports, victim witness reports, medical and psychological records of victims and depositions of Shanley, then-Cardinal Bernard Law and other alleged victims.
Weir reviewed similar material for her report.
“Mr. Shanley . ... would benefit from treatment,” she wrote in a report that was also partially redacted. “However, his age and his health impact his ability to act out on his sexual arousal and his interest in sexual matters. .... While it is impossible to opine that there is absolutely no risk of Mr. Shanley engaging in a potential sexual offense, in my opinion based on the facts and circumstances as well as factors empirically identified in the research as associated with risk of sexual re-offense, his presentation does not meet the threshold required by the statute.”
Shanley, a once-prominent “street priest,” was accused of abuse by dozens of men in a case that was instrumental in the clergy abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church.
In 2005, he was convicted of two counts of rape of a child and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child for assaults on a boy at a Newton parish. The Middlesex DA’s office sought a life sentence, but he received a 12- to 15-year prison sentence.
Shanley’s lawyer has said he’s served his time and is not dangerous.