Victims Advocates Alarmed as Mass. Pedophile Priest Released From Prison: ‘We Fear for the Safety of Children’

By Steve Helling
July 27, 2017

A disgraced Catholic priest is set for release from prison 12 years after his conviction for child rape, PEOPLE confirms.

Paul Shanley was convicted in 2005 for raping a boy in the early 1980s. His victim, who was 27 years old during the trial, told jurors Shanley would regularly pull him out of Sunday School for what he called “special duties.” The victim said that Shanley had molested him in several rooms of the parish in Newton, Massachusetts.

The high-profile trial turned Shanley into one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal. He was among the first priests to stand trial after the Boston Globe unearthed allegations against several clergymen, as well as coverups by the Boston Archdiocese.

Shanley, then 74, was convicted of two counts each of child rape and indecent assault and battery. Prosecutors asked for a life sentence, but the judge gave Shanley 12 to 15 years.

In a statement, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) expressed concern at Shanley’s release.

“While we understand and respect the American judicial system, we fear for the safety of children now that Shanley has been released,” said SNAP Managing Director Barbara Dorris. “People may see an old man and assume he is harmless. That is not the case.”

Shanley is expected to be released by Friday.

Shanley, now 86, will begin 10 years of supervised probation, according to a news release from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. While Middlesex prosecutors asked for Shanley to be civilly committed indefinitely, two court-appointed doctors who assessed Shanley said that he was not legally a sexually dangerous person.


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