Report: Pedophile priest's age lessens risk of re-offending

BOSTON — Both psychologists who determined a convicted pedophile priest was not sexually dangerous did not interview him, but noted he has a predisposition to criminal sexual acts.

They based their findings on a series of evidence that included past interviews, articles, letters, materials from the Archdiocese of Boston and court documents.

“He cannot be compelled to meet with me at this stage in the statutorily defined process,” wrote Katrin Rouse Weir, a licensed psychologist.


There are reports of Catholic Priest Paul Shanley, now 86, assaulting children dating back to the 1960s. However, he was only convicted in relation to one victim in 2005. As he came toward the end of his sentence, two psychologists evaluated him in order to determine if she was sexual dangerous and therefore needed to be civilly committed, or if he could be released.

The Commonwealth uses a qualitative form to determine if someone is sexually dangerous, and a “person must from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that would lead to a strong likelihood that the person would re-offend without being placed in strict security,” wrote Mark Schaefer Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist.

The form looks at 10 variables, giving points for each, including age, number of prior sentencing dates, number of prior charges/convictions for sexual offenses, any unrelated victims and prior conviction for non-sexual violence. Shanley scored a -1, which puts him in the below average risk category. How he scored for each individual factor was redacted in the paperwork Boston 25 News obtained.

Both psychologists said Shanley has a mental abnormality and meets the threshold for having Pedophilic disorder, by showing, “persistent or chronic deviant sexual interest in prepubescent and under aged male children.”

According to the reports, Shanley’s age is considered a “robust protective factor.”

“Current research would suggest that recidivism rates for sexual offending by individuals that age are extremely low,” wrote Schaefer.

“Individuals who sexually assault children, victims under the age of 16, demonstrate the most precipitous decrease in risk at the age of 50. Mr. Shanley’s current age 86 would suggest a mitigation in risk,” wrote Rouse Weir.

Rouse Weir spoke with the mother of one of the victims who told her, “she felt that his age was not a mitigating factor stating, ‘He is lethal, as long as he has a voice, he could do it by proxy.’” Rouse Weir countered in her report, saying that research indicated that as men age their sexual interest diminishes.

Rouse Weir also noted that Shanley “appears to require some level of assistance if not supervision in order to maintain himself safely on a daily basis” as evidence to his advancing age.

In addition to the age, Schaefer wrote that the evidence suggests that Shanley “offending was linked to his easy access to boys over whom he could be in a position of authority.” Shanley has been defrocked and as a Level 3 sex offender, he will not be allowed to be around children unsupervised.

Shaefer noted that Shanley disagrees with the official version of events leading up to his arrest and conviction.

The psychologists said it is impossible to know for sure whether or not someone will re-offend, but based on the evidence Shanley is not “reasonably expected to.”