Former priest Paul Shanley, key figure in Boston clergy sex abuse scandal, dies

WARE, Mass. — Paul Shanley, a former Catholic priest who served time in prison for child rape and a key figure in the Boston clergy sex abuse scandal, has died, Ware Police have confirmed.

Shanley, a Ware resident, died on Oct. 28 of heart failure, police said. He was 89 years old.

In 2005, Shanley was convicted of raping a child repeatedly in the 1980s. He formerly served as a priest at St. Jean’s Parish in Newton.

In 2017, he was released from prison after completing his 12-year sentence. His release from prison triggered protests from some of his victims, who alleged he sexually abused them as children.

Shanley was a key figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal first reported by The Boston Globe in 2002. The newspaper uncovered 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.

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.

In a statement Friday, the Archdiocese of Boston decried Shanley’s crimes.

“The harm caused to so many by Paul Shanley is immeasurable. 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,” the archdiocese said.

Shanley lived out his remaining days in Ware as a sex offender.

>>PREVIOUS: Former priest convicted of raping boy released from prison

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represented several victims in the church sex abuse scandal, said in a statement that he was not aware of Shanley’s passing until Friday, when contacted by media.

“Respectfully, children are now safer because of the passing of Fr. Paul Shanley. Unfortunately, the amount of human pain caused by Fr. Shanley and the Archdiocese of Boston is continuing and immeasurable,” Garabedian said.

This story contains information from The Associated Press.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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