Teacher in Shrewsbury, Webster is fired after 1990s sex abuse reported

By Elaine Thompson
Telegram & Gazette
December 03, 2016

WORCESTER — A local Catholic school teacher has been fired after allegations of sexual abuse that reportedly occurred in the early 1990s.

The alleged sexual abuse occurred before Derek P. Sylvester became a part-time music and theater arts teacher at St. Mary Elementary School in Shrewsbury and St. Joseph Elementary School in Webster, Raymond Delisle, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, said in a press release Saturday morning. He said that no information has come to the attention of either school of any inappropriate behavior by Mr. Sylvester while employed at any parish or diocesan school or toward any students of the schools.

Mr. Sylvester, who is from Worcester, has taught at the schools for about three years.

The allegations came to light Nov. 7, when the alleged victim, now an adult, made a report to Judith Audette, the Diocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Office of Healing and Prevention. The alleged victim said the incidents had taken place in the early 1990s.

Mr. Sylvester was placed on paid administrative leave on Nov. 10, after the allegations were reported to the Worcester District Attorney’s office. He denied the accusations during an internal investigation and was subsequently terminated Friday, Dec. 2.

“No definitive judgement has been made as to whether Mr. Sylvester had committed the alleged offenses, but the allegation was deemed more likely than not to be true and that his continued employment would present an unreasonable risk to students,” Mr. Delisle wrote.

He said that parents at each school were notified by email and/or a letter after Mr. Sylvester’s dismissal.

Anyone with questions or specific concerns regarding potential abuse of a child is asked to call Ms. Audette, the diocesan Victim’s Assistance Coordinator at (508) 929-4363.


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