A St. John’s Preparatory School faculty member is on unpaid leave after allegations of sexually abusing a child came to light from when he was in Baltimore in the mid-1980s.
Brother Robert “Bob” Flaherty is no longer on campus and has been banned from active ministry by the Xaverian Brothers, which sponsors the all-boys school in Danvers.
“It’s important for us as a school to celebrate the good things and deal with challenges that confront us. That’s what we’re doing now,” St. John’s Headmaster Edward P. Hardiman told the Herald.
The abuse allegedly occurred before Flaherty’s time at St. John’s. He worked at the Catholic school on the North Shore from 1999 to 2007, and 2010 to Aug. 18.
Flaherty first joined the Xaverian Brothers in September 1979 and took his vows after a year of training in 1980. He taught at Mount St. Joseph in Baltimore from 1980 to 1993, and then again from 2008 to 2010, according to a statement from the Xaverian Brothers.
“The Congregation is saddened when it learns of an incident, even one that occurred decades ago, and recognizes that the effects of abuse can be life-long,” Brother Edward Driscoll said in the statement.
The allegation was reported to the Baltimore police and is under investigation by the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office.
“The brave clergy sexual abuse victim who has come forward will empower other clergy sexual abuse victims to come forward and is making the world a safer place for other children,” said Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has fought church sex abuse for nearly two decades. “The Catholic Church needs to protect children in a meaningful and effective way.”
The headmaster pointed to ongoing training from an outside contractor to provide “safe environments for children.”
A notification was sent out to current parents, alumni, faculty, staff and trustees as well as parents of children involved in the summer programs Tuesday night, according to Hardiman.
“Given that the issue is from 35 years ago and doesn’t involve anyone here at St. John’s, the overall sentiment of responses we’ve seen are obviously sadness that this may have happened for Brother and for the individual who brought this forward,” Hardiman said. “There’s also gratitude for the fact that we as a school, as a board of trustees, as a leadership team are being open and upfront with the community about the circumstances of why brother has left Saint John’s.”