Court Refuses to Hear Former Teacher's Appeal
Brother Shawn McEnany Faces Charges of Violating a N.H. Law against Sex Offenders
Associated Press, carried in Portland Press Herald (Maine)
February 20, 1999
The state Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal filed by a former Bishop Guertin High School teacher charged with violating a state law barring sex offenders from working with children.
The ruling means Brother Shawn McEnany, 36, faces trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court on charges of violating the law and failing to register with police as a sex offender.
McEnany had filed a pre-trial appeal with the high court, challenging the constitutionality of both charges. But the high court declined to hear the matter.
The charges against McEnany came after an Associated Press article revealed he had been convicted of unlawful sexual contact with a 15-year-old female student at St. Dominic Regional High School in Lewiston, Maine, a decade ago. He received a suspended jail sentence and was put on probation for two years.
McEnany is free on bail. His trial has not been scheduled yet.
If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison for the felony charge of working with children, but Assistant County Attorney Catherine Devine has said she would not recommend prison time. Failing to register as a sex offender is a misdemeanor.
Bishop Guertin officials knew of McEnany's criminal record when they hired him. Brother Leo Labbe, the principal, has said he believes McEnany learned from his mistake and posed no danger to pupils.
McEnany and Labbe did not know of the 1989 state law barring people convicted of "any sexual assault" and various other crimes from working with children, the school's lawyers have said.
McEnany argued at the Supreme Court that Maine's unlawful sexual contact charge did not amount to sexual assault in New Hampshire.
No complaints arose against McEnany during his seven years of teaching at Bishop Guertin. After his arrest, scores of students, graduates and parents came forward to praise his teaching skills and compassion.
McEnany was relieved of his teaching and ministry duties at the school in November 1997, after the allegations became public.
The high court ruling also will affect the case of a Greenville man, Thomas Trempe, accused of helping to run a pitching machine for a youth baseball league after being convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl.
McEnany and Trempe are believed to be the first people ever prosecuted under the 10-year-old law that prohibits sex offenders from working with children.
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