Brother McEnany Pleads Innocent to Sex-Offender Teaching Charges

By Kate Munro
Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
January 9, 1998

NASHUA The Bishop Guertin religion teacher indicted for violating a law that bars convicted sexual offenders from teaching pleaded not guilty at his arraignment yesterday.

Brother Shawn McEnany, 36, a popular teacher, was head of the Catholic school's ministry until he was arrested in November. He faces a felony charge for teaching and a misdemeanor charge for failing to register as a sex offender with the police department.

His lawyer, W. Michael Dunn, filed a motion to dismiss the case at Hillsborough County Superior Court on Monday, arguing the state law is unconstitutional.

"The Legislature in New Hampshire is attempting to do a laudable thing, they're attempting to pass something akin to a Megan's Law (which protects children)," said Dunn, outside the courtroom yesterday. "However, instead of devoting the time and effort as other states have done in listing gradations to help delineate who is dangerous and who is not, they simply included the phrase 'any sexual assault'."

State law says it's a felony for anyone convicted of sexual assault to "knowingly undertake employment" working or volunteering with children.

But Dunn argued the state law should differentiate between misdemeanor and felony sexual crimes.

In the motion, Dunn referenced a similar case the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently threw out because the law provided no hearing to decide whether the person, who was convicted of "unlawful touching," was dangerous, according to Dunn.

McEnany's lawyers used similar arguments in a challenge to the state's law in a case filed last month in U.S. District Court.

In both cases, McEnany's lawyers argue the state law violates due process and lacks a way to warn offenders.

Hillsborough County prosecutor Catherine Devine has 10 days to answer the motion. The judge in the case could either deny the motion or send the case to the state Supreme Court.

Hillsborough County Attorney Peter McDonough said this is the first time he's heard of a case that challenges this law since it was passed almost 10 years ago.

As to whether this will become a precedent-setting case, McDonough said, "I don't know if I see this as that remarkable of a case."

Ten years ago, McEnany pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual contact in Maine in a case involving a 15-year-old student. He received two suspended jail sentences of 364 days and one year of probation.

School officials were aware of McEnany's criminal record when they hired him in 1990. Headmaster Brother Leo Labbe has said he believed McEnany was rehabilitated and had learned from his mistake.

McEnany has not been accused of any improper activity while working at Bishop Guertin.

School officials relieved him of his duties when police began investigating the case. He is free on $ 1,500 cash bail and is living at a Brothers of the Sacred Heart home in Rhode Island.


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