McGovern: Clinicians let pedophile priest walk without in-person meet

By Bob Mcgovern
July 29, 2017

Middlesex prosecutor Gerry Leone

Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan

‘CANNOT BE COMPELLED’: Paul Shanley, seen in Ware police sex offender data, was not required to speak with psychologists who ruled that he could be released from custody.

The two state-contracted psychologists who determined that convicted child rapist and former Catholic priest Paul Shanley did not need to be civilly confined never looked into the aging predator’s eyes.

State law doesn’t require it, and a former top prosecutor says potentially sexually dangerous people should be required to speak to the clinicians who will determine whether they are still a threat to themselves and society.

“This is to make sure that this person isn’t going to have the same proclivities and inclinations they did that landed them in jail in the first place,” said former Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone. “It doesn’t bother me that they would be required to aid in the assessment.”

Marian Ryan, the current Middlesex district attorney, brought in psychologists Mark Schaefer and Katrin Rouse Weir to determine whether Shanley met the legal criteria for civil confinement as a sexually dangerous person. However, neither of them spoke to Shanley during the evaluation process.

“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 Schaefer, dated July 26, makes no reference to any interview of Shanley. Meghan Kelly, spokeswoman for the Middlesex DA’s office, confirmed that neither clinician spoke to Shanley before writing their reports.

The concern is that a person cannot constitutionally be forced to give incriminating evidence against himself. But that issue arises in the criminal context, and civil commitments deal with a murky area where the goal is no longer punishment for past deeds.

It is to ensure that a person who has served their time receives medical treatment while protecting society at large from potential issues in the future.

“They are not making him provide evidence against himself,” Leone said. “This is not a criminal situation where he will be confined in a punishment context. The context is whether or not he should still receive treatment. It’s an important distinction.”

Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters on Thursday that reviewing the statute around committing sexually dangerous persons is on his “to-do list,” though he didn’t specify what aspects of it his administration intends to review.

Baker’s office did not directly answer whether the governor believes convicted sex offenders should be required to meet with psychologists hired to determine whether they should be committed.


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