Ware neighbors reel as child rapist Paul Shanley moves in

By O’ryan Johnson
July 28, 2017

Robert Hoatson, Co-Founder & President of Road to Recovery, Hope & Healing for Survivors of Sexual Abuse, protests in front of the new residence of Paul Shanley, former priest and clergy sex abuser, who was released from prison today. Staff photo by Mark Garfinkel

WARE - This small western Massachusetts town today reeled as one of the state's most notorious child molesters abruptly moved in after his release from prison this morning. 

"I don't want him on this street at all," said Leslie Mansour, 45, a mother of five, said she followed his trial 12 years ago and never dreamed she'd end up next door to convicted child rapist and former Catholic priest Paul Shanley. "He doesn't belong here. My kids walk up and down this street, but not anymore. They're going to be stuck in the yard. I don't want them anywhere near him. He belongs in jail. I don't care how many years he did. They should have never let him out. He should have died in there."

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 the 86-year-old as a Level 3 offender, meaning he is most likely to re-offend. He will remain on probation for 10 years. 

Shanley now lives in an apartment in a well-maintained, bright yellow house on a street street lined with modest single-family homes, and a few multifamily residences. 

He refused to answer questions from reporters as he walked up the driveway, holding a cane, this afternoon.

Ware Police Chief  Shawn Crevier said police will add patrols to the area and vowed to address any problems quickly.

"Pulaski Street is a good neighborhood," he said. "Neighbors look out for each other there. I'm not anticipating any problems from Mr. Shanley."

Across the street from Shanley's new home, Arielle Lask runs a dance studio that includes child students and is in the process of expanding. 

"We're moving to this location to provide service to the growing number of students," she said. "Whether it's here or down the street, we're all about keeping a safe place for children. It's terrible and it's unfortunate that he's moving across the street, but there's nobody who is better to be his neighbor than me because all I do is make kids safe."

Lask said her dance studio will have security cameras as well as an alarm system and she will make sure children are never unsupervised. 

"All my staff is trained to do this," she said. "Regardless of him moving in or not, we always keep a look out for kids."

Crevier said since parents usually accompany children to dance classes, he doesn't feel any issues will arise there. 

Bob Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, a group that works with victims of sexual abuse, marched outside the prison Shanley was released from this morning and in the neighborhood that he will call home, holding signs including one reading, "86 and still a risk." 

"He should never have been set free," Hoatson said. "He should be in jail for life. He is still very dangerous. The fact that he's 86 is no barrier ... It's ironic to me, that he has the freedom to come and go as he pleases and many of his victims are still in their own prisons."

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 twelve to fifteen year prison sentence.

Abuse victims in recent days have raised concerns that Shanley, who isn’t required to wear an electronic monitoring device, will not have enough supervision.

“Paul Shanley should be in a hospital being treated and not in the outside world where he can easily gain access to innocent children,” said Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer who represented dozens of men who said they were abused by Shanley.

Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday voiced support for a review of the standards to civilly commit criminal sexual predators ahead of Shanley’s release.

“I know people who were horribly affected and were damaged by Paul Shanley, and I think this is an issue we are going to take a good look at,” Baker said yesterday. “Paul Shanley did terrible things and terrible damage to many, many people.”

Shanley’s lawyer has said he’s served his time and is not dangerous


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