Paul R. ShanleyAssignments and Archdiocesan Documents

Paul R. Shanley is a pivotal figure in the Catholic abuse crisis. The civil suit filed by four of his alleged victims resulted in the largest release of diocesan documents ever achieved, and Shanley's criminal case shaped the Boston crisis and the media's approach to it. Shanley is alleged to have abused dozens if not scores of people, and his victims are unusually disparate and exceedingly damaged. His voluminous files have been sanitized, but they still offer a detailed look at the man and the bureaucracy that fostered his alleged crimes.

Below we offer a timeline of Shanley's career, linked to the archdiocesan documents and press coverage. Then we present links to key sources of information and Frequently Asked Questions as a thematic guide to some of the issues in the documents. For a more detailed look at Shanley's record and the tolerance of his bosses, we invite you to explore our comprehensive selection of hundreds of Shanley documents. Soon we will post the rest of the Shanley documents, making him the first Boston priest whose file is widely available in its entirety.

Born: 1/25/31 in the Dorchester section of Boston MA
Seminary: St. John's Seminary in Brighton MA, class of 1960
Ordained: 2/2/60 at Holy Name church in West Roxbury MA
Incardinated: Boston MA

Start Stop Parish Town / Accusations State Position / Colleagues Notes

Shanley was ordained when Richard Cushing was cardinal archbishop of Boston.
6/20/67 St. Patrick's


Bryan Schultz alleges he was abused by Shanley in 1965-67.
• Rev. Arthur Chabot sent an allegation of abuse by Shanley to the archdiocese in 1967. Shanley denied the accusation. (See below for a linked list of these and other Shanley documents.)
Alleged victims from this period whose names are known include Daniel Brennan (age 14 at the time), Bud Devlin (age 12), and Bill O'Toole (age 12). Devlin's mother wrote to Cardinal Cushing in 1961 about the alleged abuse. Neither her letter nor evidence of two other attempts to reach the archdiocese are in Shanley's file.
Ms. Dale Walsh alleges that Shanley raped her in the early 1960s when she was 14. Walsh says she knows of other female victims from this period.
• One alleged victim from Stoneham contacted the archdiocese on 7/28/93, claiming that Shanley also abused him later at the St. Francis rectory in Braintree. The abuse allegedly began in 1960 when the boy was 12. See also the alleged victim's follow-up letter and two versions {1, 2} of the archdiocese's report on the complaint.
MA 5/5, 4/5, then 5/5. Pastor was:
- Rt. Rev. Msgr. John S. Sexton.
Other priests were:
- Rev. George F. Smith
- Rev. David M. Burke
- Rev. John J. White
- Rev. John M. Toomey
- Rev. Luke A. Farley, J.C.L.
The parish school was staffed by the Sisters of Providence; in 1960-61, there were 449 boys and 437 girls.
6/20/67 6/18/69 St. Francis of Assisi


• Arthur Austin alleges that abuse by Shanley began during a counselling session here, when Austin was 20, and continued for 6 years.
• Shanley allegedly abused an 11-year-old boy, after his mother sent him to Shanley for counseling.
MA 2/3. Pastor was Rev. Arthur I. Norton. Other priest was John H. Curley.  
6/18/69 8/25/69 St. Anthony's Allston MA Technical Assistant. Pastor was Rev. Charles J. Foley. Other priests were Rev. Timothy J. Murphy, with either Rev. Francis J. O'Neill or Rev. Jay M. Mullin. Rev. Thomas M. Ferrick and Rev. Robert S. Mottau might have been in residence. Shanley's archdiocesan assignment record seems to indicate that the campus ministry at Boston State College (see next entry) began while Shanley was briefly at St. Anthony's. The record also gives 9/25/69 as an alternative stop date. See Shanley's own description of this period.
8/25/69 4/5/70 Boston State College Boston MA Campus Ministry In residence at St. Philip's, Warwick House, Roxbury


Cardinal Cushing died on 11/2/70, shortly after he made Shanley's apostolate with alienated youth a full-time position.


Humberto Medeiros was named archbishop of Boston on 9/8/70 and installed on 10/7/70. He was named cardinal on 3/5/73.

5/29/76 Warwick House
at St. Philip's

• Shanley was accused in 1993 of performing oral sodomy and attempting anal rape on a 15-year-old boy in the fall of 1970 at Shanley's one-bedroom apartment and office at Warwick House.
• Halfway through this 9-year ministry in 1974, a mother gave Cardinal Medeiros her young son's diary, detailing initial abuse by Shanley that began during a counseling session at the priest's 391 Beacon Street apartment. The abuse allegedly continued for 7 years, during which Shanley shared the victim with others
MA Minister to "Alienated Youth"

Shanley's ministry and Warwick House are not mentioned in the Directories for these years, which assign him to St. Philip's. Various residences, according to his archdiocesan record, including:
- St. Philip's (see previous entry, perhaps until 5/29/76)
- 406 Marlborough St., Boston
- 128 Tremont St., South Braintree (in 1975)
- 391 Beacon St., Boston (in 1975)
- 49 Milton St., Milton (1976-77)
- AMPRO, 101 Tremont St., Boston (1976)
- Exodus Center, 1200 Brush Hill Rd., Milton (1976-77)
5/29/76 8/77 Exodus Center Milton MA Minister to "Alienated Youth"

Exodus Center claimed to be a "retreat for homosexuals and their families".
Not so listed in the 1977-78 Directories, which place Shanley at St. Columban's Major Seminary, whose address, however, 1200 Brush Hill Rd., is the address for Exodus Center given in Shanley's archdiocesan record.


4/15/79 49 Milton Street Milton MA Minister to "Alienated Youth"

Cardinal Medeiros receives a 11/17/77 letter complaining about a speech that Shanley gave in Rochester and enclosing a description of the speech.

In December 1978, Shanley participated in a gathering billed as "the first ever semi-public gathering in North America of men who are involved in relationships with male youngsters."

On 2/12/79 Medeiros writes a detailed letter to the Vatican about Shanley, homosexuality, and the seminaries.

An article about the 12/78 meeting and another about "Shanley vs. Medeiros" were sent to Medeiros on 4/2/79.
Address provided in archdiocesan record.

Shanley is not listed in the 1979 Directory.


Cardinal Medeiros died on 9/17/83.

Before a successor was appointed, Bishop Thomas V. Daily named Shanley administrator of St. Jean's. At the time, Daily was the Administrator of the Diocese.

11/15/83 St. John the Evangelist


Shanley allegedly abused 21-year-old John Harris in 1979 during a counseling relationship.
In 1981, Shanley allegedly abused a troubled boy whom he was driving back from Newton to a farm for boys in Warren MA. A parishioner tried repeatedly to alert Law and his managers, but was systematically ignored.
Shanley is accused of abusing Greg Ford and 3 other boys, beginning in 1983 when Ford was 6 years old and continuing for 6 years.
MA Associate Pastor  

Bernard Law was promoted to Boston on 1/24/84 and was installed on 3/23/84.

1/1/85 St. John the Evangelist Newton MA Administrator The letter of appointment from Bishop Daily anticipated "zealous and fruitful ministry" for Shanley.

Bernard Law was named cardinal on 5/25/85.
1/22/90 St. John the Evangelist Newton

• In 1988, Bishop Banks received an allegation that Shanley suggested sadomasochistic sex to a mental patient in 1987. When confronted, Shanley was irate and Banks decided "there really was nothing I could do."
MA Pastor

Law received a 4/29/85 letter complaining about another speech by Shanley in Rochester.
The letter from Cardinal Law making Shanley pastor of St. John the Evangelist anticipated "zealous and fruitful ministry" for Shanley.

In 1988, Shanley and Rev. John J. White bought property together in Palm Springs.
1/22/90 3/1/96       Sick leave  
4/9/90 6/26/90 Our Lady of Solitude
151 W. Alejo Rd.
Palm Springs CA Shanley is not listed in the 1990 Directory. Listed priests are:
- Rev. William Erstad
- Rev. Norman E. Trembley (Canada)
- Rev. Msgr. George M. Rice (pastor emeritus)
- In res., Rev. Arnold Fox, O.S.B.
6/26/90 11/2/93 St. Anne's

St. Joseph's

San Bernardino

Shanley said Mass at Big Bear Lake CA in 1990 as a weekend supply priest, and allegedly began abusing Kevin English then. The only church in Big Bear Lake was St. Joseph's, where Rev. Francis E. Lowe was listed in the 1990-93 Directories as pastor and sole priest.
CA The pastor was Rev. Lawrence F. Grajek, who calls Shanley's 3/14/91 description of his duties "an outright lie—he was only a weekender." Boston bishop Banks transferred Shanley to San Bernardino as a "priest in good standing."

Shanley wrote to McCormack on 3/14/91 after the latter visited him, describing his (Shanley's) routine, including youth retreats.

Civil complaints against Shanley began to be filed in 1993, and McCormack prepared to notify the San Bernardino bishop and bring Shanley back to Boston.
10/16/93 11/9/93 Campion Residence and Renewal Center Weston MA   A bill from the Campion Center provides dates different from Shanley's archdiocesan record.
11/16/93 11/30/93 Institute of Living

Hartford CT   Shanley also stayed briefly (11/30-12/2) at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield CT during this trip.
11/93 12/93 Our Lady of Victories
27 Isabella St.
Boston MA   See a letter billing the archdiocese.
2/14/94 2/95 Whispering Palms and Cabana Club Resort
970 Camino Parocela
Palm Springs CA   During an assessment at the Institute of Living, Shanley "admits to the substance of complaints."

The address, but not the name of the Palm Springs property, is given in Shanley's archdiocesan record. Shanley seems to have lived in Palm Springs since 1990, not at the St. Anne's rectory.
2/95 8/15/97 Leo House

New York City NY Assistant to the Executive Director, Dr. Francis J. Pilecki. Staffed by the Sisters of St. Agnes, led by Sr. Anne Karlin, who wrote to Cardinal Law on 12/14/95 when an alleged victim of Shanley contacted her.

Start date from Flatley's 9/13/95 memo. Shanley's archdiocesan record has him living at Leo House a year later, but in NYC starting 2/27/95.

3/1/96         Shanley is given senior priest/retired status In his letter granting Shanley senior priest retirement status, effective 3/1/96, Cardinal Law praises Shanley's "impressive record."
2000 4/4/02 San Diego Police Department
Retired Senior Voluntary Patrol
San Diego CA "The volunteers' duties include making vacation house checks, assisting with traffic control and helping gather evidence at crime scenes."
5/3/02         Shanley is arrested  
2/19/04         Shanley is defrocked Shanley was notified of the Pope's decision by Archbishop O'Malley on 5/3/04.
2/7/05         Shanley is convicted  


Boston archdiocesan assignment records for Shanley, supplemented from archdiocesan files (see selection below) and the Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy and Sons, 1961-2004). We have collected and posted all the Directory entries that pertain to Shanley. A summary of the allegations against Shanley may be found in Maureen Orth, Unholy Communion (August 2002). Two other summaries of Shanley's career are Fox Butterfield and Jenny Hontz, A Priest's 2 Faces: Protector, Predator (May 19, 2002), and Cathy Lynn Grossman, Catholics Wonder: How Could a Priest Do This? (May 29, 2002). For Shanley's career in the 1990s in California and New York, see Tatsha Robertson, Shanley Couldn't Outrun His Past (April 19, 2002), and for his vacation travels, see Orth and also Christopher Cox and Robin Washington, Shanley Visited Child-Sex Haven in Thailand (May 7, 2002).

The Shanley story was originally broken in Sacha Pfeiffer, Famed "Street Priest" Preyed upon Boys (January 31, 2002). That story triggered Gregory Ford's memories of alleged abuse by Shanley at St. Jean L'Evangeliste (St. John the Evangelist) in Newton, which ultimately led to Shanley's arrest. Shanley had "stopped the clock" by living in California and New York after his departure from St. Jean's. The civil cases of Ford and other complainants from St. Jean's were settled on April 4, 2004. The criminal case, with a friend of Ford's the sole remaining victim named in the Commonwealth's case, ended on February 7, 2005, when the jury found Shanley guilty of two counts rape and two counts of assault of a child. JoAnn Wypijewski, The Passion of Father Paul Shanley (September-October 2004) is a stringent assessment of alleged weaknesses in the Ford case; see Orth, Unholy Communion, however, for other minors whom Shanley is alleged to have abused.

For the criminal trial in which Shanley was convicted of the rape and assault of a child, see the reports in the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. See also reporting on the significance of the victim's testimony, and two articles on reactions to the verdict {1} {2}. See the editorials and commentary in the Boston Globe, the Boston Phoenix, and the Duluth News Tribune. The last-mentioned commentary is a skeptical assessment of the verdict by Robin Washington, formerly of the Boston Herald. See also Denise Lavoie, Shanley conviction isn't end to clergy sex abuse crisis (February 9, 2005). A useful review of the interaction of the civil and criminal cases is Ralph Ranalli, Shanley Case Seen Undercut by Events (January 17, 2005).

As the criminal trial approached, two assessments of Shanley were published that discussed Shanley as "the first Roman Catholic priest to say anything positive about gay people." See Jeannine Gramick, Finding Empathy for Shanley, and David France, The Jury Should Still Be Out on Paul Shanley, with the reply by Maureen Orth, Gramick's Charity to Shanley Is More Than He Deserves (all January 14, 2005).


1) I have heard that most of Paul Shanley's victims were not minors. Did he abuse other children besides the boys from St. Jean's, and in what circumstances?

Shanley is alleged to have abused many vulnerable adults during counseling, but he also allegedly abused many minors. Here are a few examples:

  • St. Patrick's in Stoneham – Shanley allegedly abused an altar boy for six years 1960-66, beginning when the boy was 12 years old. Here is an excerpt from the victim's later complaint: "During the night, Father Shanley would cause ____ to go under the covers and perform oral sex on him. These trips to the [Blue Hills] cabin began when ____ was 12 or 13 years old and continued for several years." Confession at the Franciscans' St. Anthony Shrine in Boston was sometimes part of the abuse routine. See the full complaint.
  • Warwick House during Shanley's ministry to alienated youth – Shanley allegedly abused an 11-year-old altar boy from Stoneham during an overnight to the Blue Hills cabin. A few years later, Shanley abused the boy repeatedly at Warwick House, in an RV that Shanley used in his ministry, and on the road after speaking engagements: "Father Shanley performed oral sex on ____ and asked ____ to perform oral sex on him which he did. Father Shanley digitally penetrated ____'s anus and engaged in anal sex with him as well. On many of these occasions, Father Shanley would orchestrate a situation where he would bring up ____'s problems at home and counsel him with those problems. He would take advantage of ___'s vulnerabilities and after the counselling, sexually abuse ____. ____ felt compelled to engage in the sexual activity and felt as though it was a "payback" for the counselling. ____ recalls one event where Father Shanley shamelessly exploited ____ and sexually abused him on the evening of ____'s father's funeral after approaching ____ to express his condolences." See the full complaint.
  • Warwick House - A 15-year-old boy was sent by his mother to Shanley for counseling, after the boy had run away to New York City. In the second session, Shanley "while counseling him, started kissing him and began to fondle Mr. ____. Mr. ____ states that Father Shanley quickly removed Mr. ____'s pants and proceeded to perform anal sodomy upon Mr. ____. Mr. ____ begged Father Shanley to stop the anal sex as the pain was excruciating, and Father Shanley then orally sodomized Mr. ____. During this entire event, Mr. ____ was overcome with fear." See the full complaint.

2) What did Shanley's superiors know about his abuses? What is the evidence in the archdiocesan files?

  • 1961 - Dr. Peter Devlin and his wife spoke to Msgr. John S. Sexton, wrote to Cardinal Cushing, and asked a bishop they knew to intervene with Cushing about Shanley's abuse of their 12-year-old son at St. Patrick's in Stoneham. The letter to Cushing is not in the files that have been released. See Orth, Unholy Communion, p. 149.
  • 1967 - Rev. Arthur Chabot wrote to the chancellor, Msgr. Francis J. Sexton, about an allegation that Shanley had masturbated a boy at the Blue Hills cabin, and might have done the same to others. This letter is in the files, along with Shanley's denial and what he claimed was the real story, marked "accepted as true" by Sexton.
  • 1974 - A mother found her son's diary, detailing abuse by Shanley, and she turned it over to Cardinal Medeiros. Shanley later told the boy, whom he allegedly continued to abuse despite Medeiros's admonitions, that the cardinal had threatened Shanley with excommunication. There is no reference to the diary or to the confrontation with Shanley in the released files. See Pfeiffer, Famed "Street Priest" Preyed upon Boys.
  • 1979 - Under pressure from the Vatican to move Shanley into a parish, Medeiros searched for a pastor who was willing to have him. Lists of candidate parishes were assembled and reassembled. During the search, an "anonymous elderly woman" called the chancery to say "do not send Fr. Shanley back to Braintree." There is no evidence that the chancery followed up on this tip about Braintree, where (we know now) Shanley had allegedly abused a number of children and vulnerable adults.
  • 1981 - Shanley allegedly abused a troubled boy and admitted it to Jacqueline Gauvreau, who spoke to the Newton vicar and tried repeatedly to contact the chancery. Bishop Daily, who was Medeiros's vicar general, devised procedures to discourage Ms. Gauvreau, who proceeded to inform Cardinal Law personally on two occasions, to no avail. See Gauvreau's deposition.
  • 1986 - A victim of sexual abuse who had been shared among three priests wrote to Cardinal Law, offering to meet with him and inform him about the abuse. Had Law met with the victim, instead of rebuffing him through his secretary, Law would have heard about sexual abuse by Shanley at Camp Fatima in New Hampshire. The victim wrote to Law again, to no avail.
  • 1988 - Bishop Banks was informed that Shanley had "come on" sexually to a mental patient at McLean's Hospital. When Banks asked Shanley about the incident, Shanley "became irate." Then Banks "telephoned T. and told him that Fr. S. had denied the allegation, and that there really was nothing I could do." See Banks' notes on these exchanges.

In addition, Medeiros and Law were well-informed about Shanley's opinions on sexuality and on man-boy sex in particular. Complaints flowed in from lay people (1974, 1977, 1985), priests (1976), officials from other dioceses (1977), and even the Vatican (1978). In addition, the archdiocese had on file many letters from Shanley to his bishops, as well as a nearly complete set of Shanley's 1971-72 newsletter.

3) I have heard that Shanley would sometimes use blackmail to get his way. What evidence is there of this?

  • Threatening Medeiros with the Media - Medeiros was under pressure to move Shanley from his "alienated youth" ministry into a parish assignment in 1979, and the cardinal drafted a perceptive letter to Shanley about the priest's behavior and tactics. At one point, Medeiros writes: "I shall pass over in amazed but laughable silence the threats you invoke against me concerning further public pronouncements - this time about our Seminary."
  • A Deal to Keep a Secret about a Cardinal - During his Leo House appointment - when a victim was trying to get Shanley out of Leo House, and Shanley was trying to become director - Shanley wrote to Rev. Brian Flatley, Boston's sexual abuse delegate at the time, about an evaluative visit that Flatley had made to New York. Shanley wrote: "I have abided by my promise not to mention to anyone the fact that I too had been sexually abused as a teenager, and, later as a seminarian by a priest, a faculty member, a pastor and ironically by the predecessor of one of the two Cardinals [Law and O'Connor] who now debate my fate.

4) Shanley's transfers and appointments often seemed out of the ordinary. What were some of the situations?

  • Abuse Allegation - Shanley was moved in 1967 from St. Patrick in Stoneham (north of Boston) to St. Francis of Assisi in Braintree (south of Boston) because of an abuse allegation. This was his first transfer. See the allegation and Shanley's letter, in which he says to the chancellor, "You suggest a June transfer."
  • Straight to the Top - In 1970, Shanley was named by Cardinal Cushing to a full-time apostolate with alienated youth, after a one-on-one meeting. The appointment was unique, and Shanley didn't go through channels to obtain it.
  • Using the Bishops' Conference - In 1976, Shanley obtained an appointment to a national bishops' conference committee, embarrassing Medeiros (who had not been consulted) and the bishop in charge in Washington. Medeiros mildly observed that "you already know from me that I do not agree with everything you say."
  • The Vatican Puts a Parish at Risk - The Vatican's displeasure about Shanley's tapes on homosexuality and Medeiros's obliging reply (which he hand-delivered to Rome) set in motion a disastrous chain of events. In the scramble to find a parish for Shanley, little St. Jean's in Newton drew the short straw. The abuses that occurred there would ultimately topple Cardinal Law and send Shanley to jail.
  • When the Cat's Away - After Cardinal Medeiros died, there was a half-year period before Law arrived, during which Bishop Thomas V. Daily administered the archdiocese. Daily and Shanley took advantage of this window to make Shanley administrator of St. Jean's, so that the position was a fait accompli when Law arrived, and the way was paved to making Shanley pastor. Daily seems to have struck up a friendship with Shanley during the debate about Shanley's tapes on homosexuality, and Shanley was quite cordial with Daily during his early days at St. Jean's, though he was also disappointed with Daily's position on the group Dignity.
  • Writing His Ticket - When Shanley left St. Jean's in 1989, it was ostensibly over an oath that he claimed he was unable in good conscience to sign. Law was sympathetic. But there was a less principled side to the negotiations. Shanley and Rev. Jack White, a friend from Stoneham and Warwick House days, had previously bought property together in Palm Springs in 1988. See Orth, Unholy Communion, p. 184. And Shanley stipulated his terms for retirement, including a handsome allowance and a "priest in good standing" reference. Within a month, and during the busy Christmas season, Shanley had his fraudulent reference letter from Bishop Banks, which enabled him, it is alleged, to prey upon survivor Kevin English in California.

5) Shanley's relationship with Medeiros seems to have been close but stormy, and Medeiros's tolerance proved very destructive. What was going on between them?

6) How was Shanley treated in the media before the Boston Globe broke the stories of alleged abuse, and was the archdiocese concerned about Shanley's skillful use of the press?

The archdiocese kept these clippings in its files on Shanley [this FAQ is a work in progress; many more articles to come]:


Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. Return to the top of the Shanley assignment record.

The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Shanley's career history with selected public accusations. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report. We remind our readers that in the U.S. judicial system, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Note: Dioceses are often less than forthcoming about the activities of retired priests, but when we can determine those activities, we list them in these assignment records, particularly if they involve ministry. Retired priests remain under obedience to their bishop, and even the activities of laicized priests should be a concern to the diocese.

This assignment record was last updated on 9/24/11.

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