Thousands sign petition calling for Shanley to live in treatment facility

By Danny Mcdonald
August 5, 2017

Thousands have signed an online petition calling for convicted child rapist and former priest Paul Shanley to live in a treatment facility where he will have no access to children.

As of Saturday afternoon, more than 15,000 people had signed the petition, which also calls for Shanley’s whereabouts to be monitored with a GPS bracelet.

“This is a dangerous man and we all know it,” said Matan Uziel , the founder of a women’s rights advocacy group, who launched the petition.

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Uziel hopes the petition will create “positive pressure” that will prompt authorities to do something

The petition urges the Archdiocese of Boston and the state -- misidentified as “the State of Boston” -- to work to place Shanley in a treatment facility.

Shanley spent 12 years in prison for raping a boy at a Newton church in the 1980s. He was released on July 28, and moved into a three-story house in Ware, across the street from a dance studio where children as young as 2 take lessons.

Barbara Dorris , the managing director for St. Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said her organization supports placing Shanley in a secure facility.

“We certainly agree with what the petition is asking for, which is that Shanley should be monitored and not be left to live on his own,” she said.

Robert F. Shaw Jr., an attorney who represented Shanley in a criminal appeal case, rejected the premise of the petition.

“This is a petition that originated with someone located in the Middle East and reflects such a lack of understanding that it refers to Boston as a ‘State’ and appears to reflect the belief that the Archdiocese has some authority over Paul Shanley,” said Shaw in a statement on Saturday.

Shaw said Shanley has already served “the sentence deemed appropriate by our criminal justice system.” Shanley, said Shaw, is “an 86-year-old man, and he is a danger to no one.”

“The passage of time and the awareness of law enforcement will demonstrate that concerns of danger to the community are unfounded,” he said in the statement.

Eric MacLeish , a Boston attorney who has represented hundreds of sexual abuse victims, says it would be legally possible for the state to commit Shanley to a treatment center as a “sexually dangerous person.”

“That’s where he belongs,” said MacLeish.

Two psychologists hired by the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, however, found that he did not meet that criteria, a decision MacLeish thought was based on “bad facts.”

“I do not believe that the evaluating doctor had the understanding of the magnitude of what this guy did,” said MacLeish.

The reports of the psychologists who evaluated him said that Shanley’s sexual interest in children is mitigated by his age.

It’s an argument MacLeish rejects.

“Anyone who thinks Paul Shanley isn’t dangerous because of his age doesn’t know Paul Shanley,” he said. “He’s the most dangerous predatory pervert I have ever come across.”

MacLeish thought the Archdiocese of Boston “could take responsibility for the situation,” and offer to place Shanley in a church retirement home, but acknowledged that such a possibility would depend on Shanley’s “willingness to go along with that.”

Asked for comment for this story, the Archdiocese of Boston provided the statement it gave the week Shanley was released: “Paul Shanley’s crimes against children were reprehensible. No young person should ever have to experience such violations of their safety and dignity. We continue to assure all victims of abuse of our prayers and our concern.”

The Vatican defrocked Shanley in 2004.



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