WARE (AP/CBS) — A former Roman Catholic street priest who played a pivotal role in the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston has died. Paul Shanley was 89.
Shanley had been living in Ware in west-central Massachusetts since he was released from prison in 2017. He died of heart failure on Oct. 28.
Shanley was a popular priest who counseled gay and troubled youths in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2005, he was convicted of raping a boy at a Newton church in the 1980s and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Shanley’s release in July 2017 triggered a firestorm of protests from some of his victims, who alleged he sexually abused them as children.
Shanley was a notorious figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal that exploded in Boston in 2002, after The Boston Globe revealed that dozens of priests had molested and raped children for decades while church supervisors covered it up and shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish.
The Vatican defrocked Shanley in 2004 after dozens of men came forward and reported being sexually abused by him.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian represented more than 50 of Shanley’s victims. “Respectfully, the passing of Paul Shanley will now allow innocent children to be safer in society,” Garabedian said. “The pain caused by Paul Shanley could have been avoided if the Archdiocese of Boston had properly supervised him and not practiced an almost unspeakable cover up.”
Internal church records that were made public during the scandal contained documents indicating Shanley had attended a forum with others who later went on to form the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA, a pedophile advocacy organization.
The Boston archdiocese, the fourth-largest in the U.S. with more than 1.8 million Catholics, has called Shanley’s crimes against children “reprehensible.”
“The harm caused to so many by Paul Shanley is immeasurable,” the archdiocese said in a statement Friday. “His victims showed great courage in exposing his crimes and fighting for justice both within the criminal justice system and the church. We are indebted to Shanley’s victims and all victims of clergy abuse for what they have done to stop the abuse, assure that the Church supports healing for those abused, and puts the protection of children at the top of our priorities.”
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