A shamed former Catholic priest, convicted of repeatedly raping a young boy back in the 1980s, and who was released from prison on Friday, will now be living right across the street from an established children’s dance studio.
Paul Shanley, 86, moved to the town of Ware, Massachusetts, about 65 miles west of Boston, after being released from the Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater where he rotted for 12 years for his heinous crimes. His new home in a multi-unit building is opposite from a dance studio.
A studio that teaches young children how to dance, as low as two years old.
The studio’s owner, Arielle Lask, is now looking to implement a ‘state-of-the-art’ security system and to make sure every child is escorted by a trusted adult when leaving the studio.
Lask lamented about the situation.
‘It’s awful that he’s even on the streets of Ware. Whether it’s across the street or down the road, there are children everywhere.’
According to the sex offender registry that was checked, Shanley is included in the fifth Level 3 sex offender range, but the surprising thing is that the registry shows there are also 21 Level 3 sex offenders living within three miles of the dance studio. A disturbing discovery to many.
As a condition of Shanley’s 10-year probation, he has been ordered to have no contact with children under age 16.
Convicted in 2005, Shanley’s crimes were finally brought to light after The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team published an in-depth report in 2002 on pedophile priests the Catholic Church was helping to protect.
The report led to thousands of accusations from alleged victims, providing evidence that the abuse spanned over decades.
It was later discovered that senior church members helped cover-up the scandal and shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish.
Originally believed to be only a few isolated cases, the Spotlight investigation sparked an international crisis within the church, with victims coming forward from numerous countries across the world. The church ultimately paid out billions in costs and settlements.
Bernard Law, who was the Archbishop of Boston and had extensive knowledge of the abusive taking place under his leadership, resigned from his post in December 2002.
Soon after, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II the Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, where he resides today.
Shanley’s accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter, said the now defrocked priest began abusing him when he was six years old.
The man said as the abuse scandal developed in the Archdiocese of Boston during the early 2000s. It was those events that caused him to finally come forward with his story.
In 2015, the film titled ‘Spotlight’ about the Boston Globe’s efforts to unmask the priests and the church’s attempt to cover it up earned it an Academy Award.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who depicted a number of men in their case against the Boston Archdioceses, said his clients are beyond angry that Shanley is now walking away, a free man.
Garabedian also said:
‘Unfortunately, there is no mechanism in place which will prevent Paul Shanley from sexually abusing once again. When it comes to a sexual abuser abusing an innocent child, the abuser can be 35 or 95 – there’s no age limit.’
According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, there has been at least 43 priests who were defrocked from the Church and another 111 were suspended. This is an issue that cannot be ignored.
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