As news helicopters circled overhead and a throng of protesters shouted insults, former priest and accused child rapist Paul Shanley walked out of a Cambridge jail yesterday, free on bail after family members, friends, and supporters raised $300,000 in cash to secure his release.
A former ”street priest” who was said to have publicly advocated sex between men and boys, the 71-year-old Shanley is a central figure in the clergy sexual abuse scandal roiling the Archdiocese of Boston. He has been in jail for seven months awaiting trial on 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery.
He struck a stoic pose yesterday, ignoring reporters’ questions and staring straight ahead as he walked from the lobby of Middlesex Superior Court to a waiting gray Ford Explorer. He and his lawyer, Frank Mondano, had a brief shoving match with television cameramen.
Shanley was accompanied by members of his legal team and his niece, Teresa Shanley, who has attended his previous court appearances. But it was unclear who exactly raised the money for Shanley’s bail. Because it was posted in cash, the source of the money is not a public record – as it would be, for example, if someone put up property to secure a defendant’s release from jail. The Archdiocese of Boston has said it contributed no money toward bail or Shanley’s legal fees.
Mondano declined to comment on who contributed, how many contributions there were, or exactly how long supporters had been raising money.
”The money came from a variety of sources, a large number of people put in contributions,” Mondano said. ”You could certainly characterize some of them as friends.”
Shanley’s release was greeted with a mixture of jeers and expressions of alarm by abuse victims and their supporters. About a dozen people shouted at Shanley and waved signs as he was whisked away.
”It’s a sense of outrage and sadness knowing that he is going to be out and on the streets again,” said John Harris, a 45-year-old Norwood nurse who has brought a civil suit claiming that Shanley raped him in 1979. ”I fear for people who are witnesses against him.”
Some of the protesters criticized Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley for not doing more to keep Shanley in jail until his trial, which is expected sometime early next year.
”We were very disappointed that she did not ask for another bail hearing. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do to try to keep Shanley in prison,” said Paul Baier of Wellesley, a member of the group Survivors First.
Baier said members of his group were outraged that prosecutors did not seek to have Shanley placed on an electronic monitoring bracelet while he is free on bail.
A spokesman for Coakley said prosecutors believed that the best way to ensure public safety was to ask for a high bail. Spokesman Seth Horwitz said prosecutors originally asked for and received a $750,000 cash bail after Shanley was arraigned in Cambridge District Court, but that amount was later reduced by a Superior Court judge.
Asked why prosecutors had not requested that Shanley wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, Horwitz again cited the request for high bail. As for seeking a new bail hearing, Horwitz said the circumstances of Shanley’s case had not changed sufficiently to warrant a new hearing.
Wearing a light-gray suit, white shirt, red tie, and steel leg shackles, Shanley appeared briefly in court before his release so that Superior Court Judge Peter Agnes could explain the terms of his release.
Shanley was forced to surrender his passport and give probation officials an address where he will live while awaiting trial. He was also ordered not to have contact with any witness or victim in the case, nor to have unsupervised contact with anyone under age 16.
Probation records are not public. Mondano refused to discuss exactly where Shanley will live, saying he feared for his safety. But he said that Shanley will ”not be living under anyone’s roof but his own.”
The Associated Press reported yesterday that Provincetown Police Chief Ted Meyer said, after speaking with probation officials, that he expects Shanley will live in Provincetown.
The charges against Shanley stem from allegations that he raped four boys while he was assigned to the now-defunct St. John the Evangelist parish in Newton. Prosecutors say he molested the boys from 1979 to 1989, often taking them out of religious instruction classes and raping or molesting them in the church rectory, bathroom, or confessional.
A large group of alleged victims have filed suit against the archdiocese, saying that church officials were informed about abuse allegations against Shanley and about his statements about sex between men and boys but did nothing but shuffle him from assignment to assignment.
Boston attorney Roderick MacLeish, who represents more than 20 alleged victims of Shanley, said his clients were upset that the priest had made bail.
”It is absolutely devastating to victims,” he said. ”Now they are worried they will never have their day in court.”
Speaking about Gregory Ford, whom MacLeish represents in a sexual abuse lawsuit against Shanley, the attorney said, ”When I first met Greg Ford in February, he had a certain look on his face.” Since then, he had improved greatly, MacLeish said. But when Ford learned Shanley would make bail, ”We saw that same look on his face we haven’t seen since February. It is truly, truly unfortunate.”