Diocese Defends Decision to Let Former Seminarian Teach
Statement: Evaluation Said He Posed No Threat
By Ken Garfield and Howie Paul
Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)
February 7, 2003
The interim head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte on Thursday defended the decision to let Mark Doherty teach high school, even after the Boston Archdiocese determined there was a "reasonable probability" he engaged in sexual misconduct.
Doherty requested Tuesday that he be placed on administrative leave from Charlotte Catholic High, where he taught religion since 1997, pending a diocesan lay review board inquiry into allegations dating back to 1977.
The allegations surfaced following the release of old diocese personnel records in connection with widespread allegations of child sexual abuse and molestation in the Boston Archdiocese.
In court records, Doherty denied the allegations.
Thursday, diocesan administrator Monsignor Mauricio West said he hopes Doherty can return to the classroom once the review board has finished its work.
But in a 1997 letter to then-Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, Boston Cardinal Bernard Law wrote: "I am not in a position to recommend to any bishop that he accept Mr. Doherty, in light of the information which I have shared with you."
Thursday, diocese spokesman Kevin Murray said Law was referring to Doherty's qualifications to become a priest, not a teacher. Through Murray, West said he doesn't know the grounds on which Law refused to recommend Doherty.
West said it was entirely up to Curlin to accept or not accept him.
In a written statement released Wednesday, West said: "The Boston Archdiocesan Review Board found no substantiating evidence for the allegations (against Doherty) and therefore closed the file; recommendations following Mr. Doherty's psychological evaluations state that he poses no threat in his work with children and adults and that he should remain in serious consideration for ordination."
Curlin, 75, who still lives in Charlotte, retired in September. He declined comment Thursday.
Two brothers in 1993 accused Doherty of molesting them as teens during a 1977 camping trip in New Hampshire. A second allegation in 1994 was made by a mother who claimed Doherty molested three of her sons.
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