Disgraced former priest who repeatedly raped a boy in the 80s and was exposed after the 'Spotlight' sex abuse report is released from prison after 12 years

By Daniel Roth
Daily Mail (UK)
July 28, 2017

Paul Shanley (pictured), 86, was released from prison Friday after serving a 12-year sentence

He was convicted in 2005 of raping a boy 30 years earlier while preaching in Massachusetts (Pictured: Shanley Feb 1974)

Shanley's victim stepped forward following a report by The Boston Globe exposed pedophile priests within the Catholic Church (Pictured: The Boston Globe June 2017)

A movie titled 'Spotlight' on The Boston Globe's effort won the Academy Award in 2015 (Pictured: Cast of the film 'Spotlight')

The report by the Spotlight team led to thousands of accusations against priests within the Church, providing evidence that the abuse spanned over decades (Pictured: Spotlight team)

[with video]

A disgraced former priest convicted of repeatedly raping a boy in the 1980s was released from prison on Friday after serving a 12-year sentence.

Massachusetts prison officials say Paul Shanley, 86, was released from the Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater on Friday. They did not provide an exact time.

Convicted in 2005, Shanley's crimes were finally brought to light after The Boston Globe's Spotlight team published an in-depth report in 2002 on pedophile priests the Catholic Church was helping to protect. 

The report led to thousands of accusations from alleged victims, providing evidence that the abuse spanned over decades.

It was later discovered that senior Church members helped cover-up the scandal and shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish.  

Originally believed to be only a few isolated cases, the Spotlight investigation sparked an international crisis within the Church, with victims coming forward from numerous countries across the world.

The Church ultimately paid out billions in costs and settlements.

Bernard Law, who was the Archbishop of Boston and had extensive knowledge of the abusive taking place under his leadership, resigned from his post in December 2002.

Soon after, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II the Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, where he resides today.

Shanley’s accuser, then a 27-year-old firefighter, said the now defrocked priest began abusing him when he was six-years-old.

The man said as the abuse scandal unfolded in the Archdiocese of Boston during the early 2000s, those painful memories returned, spurring him to come forward.  

In 2015, a motion picture titled 'Spotlight' about the Boston Globe's efforts to expose the priests and the Church's attempt to cover it up won the Academy Award.  

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represented a number of men in their case against the Boston Archdioceses, said his clients are upset that Shanley is being released.

'Unfortunately, there is no mechanism in place which will prevent Paul Shanley from sexually abusing once again,' Garabedian said, according to USA Today.

‘When it comes to a sexual abuser abusing an innocent child, the abuser can be 35 or 95 — there’s no age limit.'

Days before his was released, another alleged victim of the Shanely was interviewed by The New York Times, who described the priest as 'a sexual predator plus,' recalling how he took advantage a young man in need of help.

John Harris claims that in 1979, after struggling with depression and alcohol abuse, he reached out to Shanley for help.

'He raped me, under the pretense of helping me,' Harris, now 59, told the Times on Wednesday.

The state's sex offender registry lists Shanley as a Level 3 offender, meaning he is most likely to re-offend. The registry says Shanley will be living in an apartment in Ware, a town of about 10,000 residents about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west of Boston.

State law prohibits people from using information in the registry to harass people.

Abuse victims also say they're concerned Shanley, who isn't required to wear an electronic monitoring device, will not have enough supervision.

Shanley's lawyer says he's served his time and is not dangerous.  

A protest was planned outside the Bridgewater prison Friday.

According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, 911 new accusations against 463 priests emerged in 2016. Of those, at least 43 priests were defrocked from the Church and another 111 were suspended.



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