January 2019 – The William A. Percy Foundation is pleased to announce Bob Chatelle and Jim D’Entremont as recipients of the the first annual Charley Shively Prize for Gay Liberation.
Through their journalism and organizing, Bob and Jim — founders of the National Center for Reason and Justice (NCRJ) — have brought attention to falsely accused people whose trials were often tinged by homophobia. In a number of prominent cases, their work has helped win the release and exoneration of the unjustly convicted. In the late 1990s, both men became advocates for Bernard Baran, the first daycare worker wrongfully imprisoned in the nationwide moral panic in the 1980s over “Satanic Abuse,” with Baran’s conviction finally being vacated by the Massachusetts Appeals Court in 2009.
In addition, Bob has been active in union organizing, and together with his partner Jim — journalist, playwright, and author — the two men have been vocal free speech advocates, with Jim having served as director of the Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression.
Robert Chatelle, Harvard ’63, is a computer programmer and writer who has served on the executive board of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981 / AFL-CIO). As chairperson of the union’s Political Issues Committee, he dealt with a range of free expression issues pertinent to publishing and higher education. In 1990, he became a founding member of the Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression (BCFE). An affiliate of the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression, the BCFE was a response by artists, writers, and arts administrators to predominantly homophobic, right-wing attacks on artists and cultural institutions. In 1997, Bob Chatelle became active on behalf of persons falsely accused and convicted of “Satanic Ritual Abuse,” particularly caregivers convicted of crimes against children. Beginning in 1998, he became the principal advocate for Bernard Baran, the first daycare worker wrongfully imprisoned in the nationwide moral panic of the 1980s. He and/or his partner James D’Entremont visited Baran at the Massachusetts Treatment Center weekly for seven years until 2006, when Baran was released after winning his bid for a new trial. During that time, Bob Chatelle founded the National Center for Reason and Justice (NCRJ). The non-profit organization was at that time chiefly dedicated to reversing false convictions, including many carrying a taint of homophobia. The organization has helped secure the release of a number of wrongfully convicted individuals, and has provided advocacy and support for others who remain in prison, both the unjustly incarcerated innocent and the overpunished guilty. Mr. Chatelle continues to serve as the NCRJ’s executive director, and is currently an active member of Boston’s Sex Offender Policy Reform Initiative (SOPRI).
James D’Entremont is a journalist, fiction writer, and playwright. He is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Tunisia 1967-’69) and formerly the artistic director of Boston’s Harlequin Theatre Company. Through the 1990s, he was a spokesperson for the Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression, and eventually its executive director. From 1991 to 2001, he organized annual Banned Books Week reading vigils featuring banned literary works read aloud by a succession of readers around the clock. From 1996 to 2008, he wrote news articles, criticism, and lead features as a staff writer for The Guide, a Boston-based, internationally circulated liberationist LGBT monthly. His articles on anti-gay censorship and the American Christian Right have also appeared in Index on Censorship, The Journal of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity, and other publications. In 1998, he joined his partner Robert Chatelle’s campaign to free the late Bernard Baran, a gay daycare worker whose homophobia-ridden trial resulted in three concurrent life sentences. He continues to be active in the National Center for Reason and Justice, the organization built around the Baran case. Through the NCRJ, he has become one of the most steadfast supporters of Paul Shanley, a former priest wrongfully convicted of child rape in a trial whose flaws and biases are documented in his coverage of the case for The Guide.