Convicted pedophile and defrocked priest Paul Shanley is set to be released from prison Friday.
In 2005, Shanley was convicted of two counts of child rape and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child. The abuse happened between 1983 and 1989 at St. Jean's Church in Newton, Massachusetts. Shanley, now 86 years old, was sentenced to a 12- to 15-year prison sentence. He will be released on Friday and begin 10 years of supervised probation and cannot have contact with children under the age of 16.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan released a statement to WFXT:
“The Commonwealth is not legally permitted to seek that Shanley be confined further without expert testimony that he meets the legal criteria for civil confinement as a sexually dangerous person. To that end we hired two qualified examiners. We are awaiting their final reports; however, both doctors have informed us that they have concluded that Shanley does not satisfy the legal criteria for a petition to be filed.
"The defendant will be monitored by the probation department for the next ten years and has been ordered to have no contact with children under sixteen years of age. Our office continues to provide support and assistance to the victims in this matter.”
Other priest abuse victims are fighting his release, saying he is still a danger to the public.
"He sexually abused children for decades upon decades... dozens upon dozens of children. Why would he change now?" said Mitchell Garabedian, lawyer for victims.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, agrees with Garabedian, saying in a statement:
"While we understand and respect the American judicial system, we fear for the safety of children now that Shanley has been released.
"Research and experience teach us that age does not cure pedophilia. Often age gives predators an advantage. People may see an old man and assume he is harmless. That is not the case.
"The Catholic Church has many treatment facilities for clergy and former clergy with sexual issues. We hope that they will insist Shanley live in a facility where he can receive treatment and where he will have no access to children."
The Archdiocese of Boston sent WFXT the following statement about Shanley's release:
"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.
"Any person who has been harmed by clergy sexual abuse, and in particular those who may need additional support at this time, are encouraged to contact the Archdiocese's Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach at 617-746-5995."
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