Paul Shanley, ‘poster boy’ of clergy sexual abuse scandal, dead at 89

Category: Catholic Sexual Abuse | M Garabedian

Paul R. Shanley, a defrocked priest and convicted child rapist who became one of the most notorious figures in the Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse scandal, died of heart failure on Oct. 28 at a Ware hospice facility, according to state officials.

The 89-year-old had been living in Ware since his release from prison three years ago after serving 12 years for repeatedly raping a boy in the 1980s.

“Children are now safer because of the passing of Paul Shanley,” said Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represented dozens of Shanley’s victims in civil claims against the church and described him as “one of the poster boys of clergy sexual abuse throughout the United States and the world.”

Garabedian said Shanley’s victims feel cheated because he died a free man and church supervisors who failed to stop him from preying on victims were never prosecuted.

“Victims are still coming forward claiming to have been sexually abused by Paul Shanley,” Garabedian said. “The negligence of the Archdiocese of Boston was inexcusable and irreparable to many victims.”

In a statement issued Friday, the Archdiocese of Boston said, “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 its Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach is available to those who were abused by clergy and their families, and encouraged anyone who was abused by clergy to call, “regardless of when the abuse occurred.”

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