November 9, 2020
If there’s indeed a hell, it’s a fitting final destination for Paul Shanley.
Shanley, a former Roman Catholic priest who played a pivotal role in the sexual-abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston two decades ago, has died, authorities said Friday. He was 89.
Police in Ware, a town in west-central Massachusetts where Shanley had lived since his release from prison in 2017, confirmed his death, but not the circumstances.
WFXT-TV, Boston’s Fox News affiliate, said he died of heart failure on Oct. 28.
Shanley was known in the 1960s and ’70s as a hip, street-wise priest who reached out to troubled youths. But in 2005 he was convicted of repeatedly raping and fondling a boy at a suburban parish in the 1980s, and he was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison.
During the trial, Shanley’s accuser, then a 27-year-old firefighter, said Shanley would pull him from Sunday catechism classes and rape and fondle him at St. Jean’s parish in Newton, beginning when he was 6 years old. The man said he recovered memories of the abuse as the clergy sex-abuse scandal unfolded in the Archdiocese of Boston during the early 2000s.
Incredibly, not only was Shanley’s predatory conduct tolerated, but rewarded, as in 1984 when Cardinal Bernard Law promoted him to pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Newton.
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