Hold Teacher Accountable, Mother Urges
A Catholic High School in New Hampshire Defends Its Hiring of a Brother Convicted of Sexually Assaulting a Maine Girl
Portland Press Herald (Maine)
November 20, 1997
Convicted sex offender Brother Shawn McEnany needs to be held accountable for breaking the law by teaching at Bishop Guertin High School, says the mother of the Maine girl he sexually assaulted in 1988.
The Lewiston, Maine, woman said she couldn't believe the parents of students at the Roman Catholic high school in Nashua were coming to the defense of McEnany and Guertin officials. She spoke only on condition of anonymity.
"It felt like we were being violated again," the mother said in a telephone interview. "Just the thought that this person was once more in the schools, and not just in the schools, but that the school actually knew what had happened (enraged me)."
The mother said she feared the show of support for him would intimidate other possible victims at the school from coming forward.
Last week, McEnany, 35, was charged with teaching as a convicted sex offender and failing to register as a sex offender. He was released on $ 25,000 personal recognizance bail and told to stay away from children.
McEnany faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the first charge and up to one year in jail on the second charge.
McEnany has taught religion and run spiritual retreats at Bishop Guertin since 1990. He was suspended two weeks ago after authorities learned of his Maine criminal record from The Associated Press and began investigating.
A 1989 state law makes it a felony for anyone convicted of sexual assault to work or volunteer with children.
In Maine, McEnany originally was charged with gross sexual misconduct, a felony, for allegedly having oral sex with a 15-year-old female student at St. Dominic Regional High School in Lewiston. He pleaded guilty in 1988 to two counts of unlawful sexual contact, got a suspended jail sentence and was ordered not to teach in Maine.
At the time, St. Dominic was operated by the religious order Brothers of the Sacred Heart, which still owns and operates Bishop Guertin, a school of about 800 students from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
"There was no justification for him to be teaching again and no excuse for the Brothers of the Sacred Heart to allow it," the mother said.
Guertin officials said they were aware of McEnany's criminal past when they hired him, but decided he did not pose a threat to students. At the time, the school was all boys.
The mother said Brothers of the Sacred Heart officials at St. Dominic urged her in 1988 not to go forward with the allegations made by her daughter.
"They wanted this kept quiet," she said.
The mother has written a letter to New Hampshire law enforcement officials, asking that they punish McEnany. She said her motive is not vengeance, but to give credibility to the new charges against the teacher.
"Lives were changed; faith and trust shattered. No one just moves on from this," she wrote. "This man violated a sacred trust not only as a teacher and friend, but as a man of God! . . . I ask you to seek justice."
The woman would not detail the assaults on her daughter, but confirmed that press accounts have been accurate.
She also said her family decided in 1988 not to file a civil lawsuit against the school or McEnany and agreed a light sentence was best. She said that so long as he wasn't around children, she wanted him to be able to get on with his life.
"We were extremely sad and compassionate nine years ago," she said. "It was a man with no prior record. It didn't make the crime any less, but we wanted him to have help. But now, given that he was there knowingly, we have no sympathy at all."
The mother said her family is having trouble understanding why Guertin officials are defending the decision to hire McEnany.
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