Teacher Backed Despite His Past
A Convicted Maine Sex Offender Is Suspended from a New Hampshire Roman Catholic School
Portland Press Herald (Maine)
November 13, 1997
Graduates of Bishop Guertin High School say the school's director of campus ministry should be allowed to continue teaching, even though he is a convicted sex offender.
Brother Shawn McEnany, 35, pleaded guilty in 1988 to two counts of unlawful sexual contact with a 15-year-old female student in Maine. Guertin suspended him last week after authorities learned of his criminal record from The Associated Press and began investigating.
McEnany has taught at Guertin since 1990, and some graduates of the private Roman Catholic school of nearly 800 students say their religion teacher is a changed man who should be allowed to stay.
"Why rehash it? He's just a great guy, so whatever happened in the past, he's started fresh," said Chip Thornton, 19, a 1995 Guertin graduate. "He sure hasn't done anything since then that anyone there knows of."
State and local prosecutors take a different view. New Hampshire law makes it a felony for anyone convicted of sexual assault to work or volunteer with children. If convicted, McEnany could face up to 15 years in prison.
Guertin's lawyer, Bradford Cook, said he isn't certain the law applies to McEnany, who was convicted of sexual contact, not sexual assault.
But McEnany also could face misdemeanor charges if he failed to register as a sex offender with local police. Nashua police told The Telegraph of Nashua that McEnany had not registered.
School officials defended their decision to hire McEnany. They said he underwent therapy during the two years between his conviction and his employment at Guertin, which is owned by the religious order Brothers of the Sacred Heart.
In a letter to students' parents Monday, school officials said McEnany had been suspended for the duration of the investigation.
Johanna Molnar, a 1997 Guertin graduate, said it would be a considerable loss for the school if McEnany could not return to teaching.
"He was sort of the poster child for what a religious person is supposed to be," Molnar said. "He was one of the most trusted teachers. I would go to him if I had a problem."
At the same time McEnany's criminal history was made public, several Guertin graduates and former employees said that now-retired mathematics teacher Brother Guy Beaulieu had molested students during his nearly two decades at the school. Some said complaints about his behavior were made to school officials as far back as the 1970s.
A source at Guertin said Beaulieu was transferred to the brothers' Burrillville, R.I., regional home in 1990 because of the allegations of sexual misconduct. The former teacher now is doing maintenance work.
Brother Raymond Reinsant, Labbe's predecessor, said sexual misconduct had nothing to do with Beaulieu's transfer.
But he said the school had heard similar allegations in 1990 from a Guertin student about computer teacher Michael Couture.
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