Volume > Issue > Paul Shanley, Pervert Priest

Paul Shanley, Pervert Priest


By Theresa Marie Moreau | May 2005
Theresa Marie Moreau can be reached at tmmoreau@yahoo.com. This article won Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Press Club's 48th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards in June 2006.

Ed. Note: Theresa Marie Moreau flew from her home in Los Angeles to Cambridge, Mass., to cover the criminal trial of Paul Shanley. This article contains graphic descriptions of sexual depravity and will probably cause you to lose your appetite. You are hereby forewarned: If you don’t like to read such accounts, DO NOT READ THIS ARTICLE. We are printing it because priestly pederasty — which certain people, especially bishops, like to gloss over — must be known for the horror it is.

“If you tell, no one will believe you,” Fr. Paul Shanley whispers the warning as he kneels before his six-year-old parishioner. The boy stands still. He dares not move, as his pants are unzipped and pulled down around his ankles by the consecrated hands of the 52-year-old beloved priest. The reverend Father caresses, rubs, then grasps, in his not-so-holy fist, the boy’s body.

“This is how it’s supposed to be done,” Shanley says, then wraps his lips around the boy’s penis. A faucet drips as the sick sweetness of urinal deodorant fills the air in the bathroom hidden in the basement of St. Jean L’Evangeliste Church in Newton, Massachusetts. Shanley switches off the bathroom’s overhead bulb.

Darkness overcomes the light.

On the witness stand, remembering the assaults proves too much for the victim, now a 27-year-old fireman in Newton, his hometown. The victim asked news organizations not to use his name, so I will call him Ron (not his real name). This former military policeman, with a hair-trigger temper who disdains authority, chokes on the sobs, buried inside more than 20 years before. Over three days in January, for almost 14 hours in the Middlesex County Superior Court, Ron recounts with difficulty the rapes and molestation he suffered from 1983 to 1989, from the age of 6 to 12, at the blessed hands of Fr. Shanley.

Ron hides his hawk-like eyes with the heels of his hands. Furiously he whips his fingers across his eyes to wipe away the tears that flow down to his cheeks. He pulls at his flesh. His face reddens, then darkens to a deep crimson. As he gulps for air, his barrel chest heaves under the freshly ironed button-down, off-white shirt. His neck bulges above the brown, knotted-too-tight tie. He runs his hands over his military-style buzz-cut, then repeatedly frisks his palms up and down his thighs.

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