Shanley is Dropped as a Police Volunteer
Retired Boston priest accused in church sex scandal
By Sandi Dolbee and Joe Hughes
San Diego Union-Tribune Staff writers
April 4, 2002
For two years, a retired Boston priest accused of raping and molesting
several boys during his ministry has been serving as a senior citizen
volunteer with the San Diego Police Department.
Now, police have told the Rev. Paul Shanley that his services are
no longer needed.
Shanley, 71, of Hillcrest, had been with the Retired Senior Volunteer
Patrol since 2000. The volunteers' duties include making vacation
house checks, assisting with traffic control and helping gather
evidence at crime scenes.
A police spokesman said the decision was made to drop him this
week after being contacted by Boston-area law enforcement officials
and media about the accusations there of sexual abuse.
"He's a volunteer. He serves at the pleasure of the San Diego
Police Department, and we just don't need to be involved, even in
a periphery way, in this kind of issue or controversy," spokesman
Dave Cohen said yesterday. "It's just not something we want
to be tied to."
Cohen said Shanley is out of town, so the department sent an e-mail
informing him he was being dropped "because of all the issues
swirling around him."
Shanley, who could not be reached for comment, has been the subject
of intense media attention as part of the unfolding Roman Catholic
Church scandal in Boston.
According to the Boston Globe, the Archdiocese of Boston has settled
at least five sexual abuse claims against Shanley and at least three
other victims have notified church officials that they, too, were
abused by him beginning in the 1970s.
The newspaper reported yesterday that Shanley may face criminal
charges in the case of Greg Ford, 24, who said Shanley repeatedly
raped and molested him during the 1980s at a parish in the Boston
suburb of Newton. Ford also has filed a lawsuit.
Cohen said Shanley had no arrests on his record, which was checked
by police before his approval for the senior volunteer program.
The department also has not received any complaints about his service.
Police apparently were not aware he was a Catholic priest. Neither
was the manager of his apartment building in Hillcrest.
Mel Lee said she learned of his clergy background when the media
began inquiring about her tenant. Shanley and another man have rented
a two-bedroom apartment for about five years, Lee said.
"He's a great tenant," she said. "He's just a lovely
She said she had not seen Shanley for several weeks and that he
has "laid pretty low" since reporters from Boston began
showing up. Along with some of his colleagues with the police senior
volunteer program, Lee expressed surprise at the accusations.
"I can't imagine him doing anything like that," she said.
A spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego said
Shanley is not working in any ministry here and has not applied
for permission to minister.
Shanley was ordained in 1960, serving at parishes in the Boston
area and running a ministry for troubled youth, according to The
Globe. He left Massachusetts in 1990, when he was placed on sick
leave, and retired six years later, according to The Globe. During
the 1990s, he worked for a few years running a guest house for clergy,
students and travelers in New York City.
Under Massachusetts' statute of limitations, the clock stops when
a person leaves the state, which means the time limit on some of
his alleged acts has not expired.
"We're going to be chasing this guy," said Boston attorney
Roderick MacLeish Jr., who represents Ford in the lawsuit and is
pushing for a criminal indictment. "He has betrayed so many
This case is unfolding against the backdrop of watershed revelations
that touched off the church scandal in January that Boston
Cardinal Bernard Law and other church authorities shuffled former
priest John Geoghan from parish to parish despite accusations of
Geoghan, 66, is accused of molesting more than 100 boys over three
decades. He is now serving a prison sentence for fondling a 10-year-old
boy in 1991.
Law, who is battling against calls for his resignation from angry
Catholics, has repeatedly apologized and turned over to prosecutors
the names of more than 80 current and former priests suspected of
child abuse over 50 years.
If MacLeish's predictions are accurate, Law may be in for more
"This is going to be the next big case to have the cardinal's
fingerprints," MacLeish said in an interview.
Joe Hughes: (619) 542-4591; firstname.lastname@example.org