Convicted pedophile priest Paul Shanley has completed his prison sentence and is expected to be released this week.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represented Shanley's victims and numerous other victims of the Roman Catholic church child sex abuse scandal in Massachusetts, told NBC Boston that Shanley is set to be released on Friday. He is currently being held at the medium security Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater.
Shanley, one of the most notorious figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal, was sentenced in 2005 to 12 to 15 years in prison for raping a boy repeatedly at St. Jean's Parish in Newton in the 1980s. He was defrocked after dozens of men came forward and said he had molested them when they were children.
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During his trial, Shanley's accuser, then a 27-year-old firefighter, said Shanley would pull him from Sunday catechism classes and rape and fondle him, beginning when he was 6 years old. The man said he recovered memories of the abuse as the clergy sex abuse scandal unfolded in the Archdiocese of Boston during the early 2000s.
"Even though he is an old man, and even though he's served his time, I worry that, that No. 1, the population is still at risk, and No. 2, this is a terrible thing to put Shanley's alleged victims through," said Terence McKiernan of Bishop-Accountability.org.
District Attorney Marian Ryan said that upon release, Shanley is scheduled to begin 10 years of supervised probation, she said. He is not allowed to have contact with children under the age of 16.
Ryan said her office 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."
She said her office hired two psychiatric experts to evaluate the 86-year-old Shanley to see if he could continue to be held after completing his sentence. Both experts told prosecutors he doesn't meet the legal criteria for civil confinement as a sexually dangerous person.
Garabedian said Shanley's victims don't fault Ryan's office, but wish there was a different outcome.
"Unfortunately, there is no mechanism in place which will prevent Paul Shanley from sexually abusing once again," Garabedian said. "When it comes to a sexual abuser abusing an innocent child, the abuser can be 35 or 95 - there's no age limit."
Shanley's trial attorney, Frank Mondano, declined to comment on Shanley's upcoming release from prison. During the trial, Mondano challenged the reliability of the accuser's repressed memories.
Shanley's appellate lawyer, Robert Shaw Jr., said Shanley has "served his time."
"We've never believed that he was dangerous, and we didn't believe that what he was convicted of was a valid conviction, given that it rested on repressed memory evidence that we did not believe was valid," he said.
The Archdiocese of Boston, the fourth-largest archdiocese in the country, with more than 1.8 million Catholics, said Shanley's crimes against children were "reprehensible."
"No young person should ever have to experience such violations of their safety and dignity," it said in a statement released Tuesday.
The clergy sex abuse scandal exploded in Boston in 2002 after a series of stories by The Boston Globe revealed that dozens of priests in the archdiocese had molested and raped children for decades while church supervisors covered it up and shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish. Thousands of victims came forward in Boston and around the world, describing sexual abuse by priests that dated back decades.
Shanley was arrested that year in San Diego, California.
"Certainly he’s been shown to be very diabolical and sinister and conniving in the ways he went after children back in the 70's, 80's and 90's," said Phil Saviano, a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a different priest.
Saviano fears that children will be at risk with Shanley back on the street.
"I think that once somebody has it in their nature to be a child molester I think it’s always part of their personality," said Saviano.
Saviano was the driving force behind the Academy Award winning movie Spotlight.
He was the whistle blower who exposed the abuse hidden by the church for decades, and says Shanley was one of the worst.
"Of the many Boston Archdiocese priests that should have been sent to prison, it's really great that he was one of them," said Saviano.