Charges Dropped against Sex Offender
A Maine Man Faced a Felony Charge in N.h., but Prosecutors Were Thwarted by Inconsistencies
Associated Press, carried in Portland Press Herald (Maine)
June 15, 1999
Inconsistencies in state law have prompted prosecutors to drop charges against a Roman Catholic high school teacher.
Brother Shawn McEnany, 35, had been accused of violating a 1989 law that makes it a felony for those convicted of sexually assaulting children to work or volunteer with children.
McEnany was convicted on a misdemeanor sex offender charge in Maine in 1988.
The former Bishop Guertin High School religion teacher's trial was scheduled to start Monday in Hillsborough County Superior Court. But Assistant County Attorney Catherine Devine dropped the charge Friday, saying the inconsistency made it difficult for McEnany to know he violated the law.
"Due to the fact that McEnany's underlying conviction is a misdemeanor from another jurisdiction, it would have been extremely difficult for this defendant to discover that by taking the teaching position offered by Bishop Guertin High School he would be exposed to felony status," she said Monday.
McEnany faced up to 15 years in prison for a felony charge of teaching as a convicted sex offender, plus one year for failing to register with police as a sex offender, a misdemeanor. That charge also was dropped.
State law forbids anyone with a felony sex conviction from becoming a teacher. A separate section of the law revokes certification as a teacher for anyone convicted of "any sexual assault."
Devine said she hopes the Legislature will fix the problem.
Despite dismissing the charges, she said McEnany's case had a positive outcome because it educated the public about the law.
McEnany, who would have been the first person ever prosecuted for violating the law, failed three times to have the felony charge thrown out.
His lawyer, Greg Swope of Concord, did not return telephone calls. Brother Leo Labbe, headmaster of Guertin, could not be reached for comment Monday.
McEnany was suspended from teaching after his November 1997 arrest. He was free on $ 25,000 personal recognizance bail and staying in Burrillville, R.I.
His troubles began when authorities learned from The Associated Press that he had been convicted of having "unlawful sexual contact" with a female student while teaching in Maine in 1988.
McEnany was teaching at St. Dominic Regional High School in Lewiston, Maine, which then was owned by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, who also own Guertin.
He was charged in Androscoggin (Maine) County Superior Court with having oral sex with a 15-year-old female student.
In a plea bargain, prosecutors dropped a felony charge of gross sexual misconduct. Court records show McEnany pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual contact, a misdemeanor, and got two suspended jail sentences of 364 days.
Guertin officials said McEnany did not teach for two years and received therapy before being sent to teach at the Nashua school in 1990. Guertin then was an all-boys school.
When the school began admitting girls in 1992, McEnany's status was reviewed and he was allowed to stay, officials said.
Guertin has about 800 students, mainly from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
By all accounts, McEnany was a well-liked teacher who taught without incident until his New Hampshire arrest on Nov. 13, 1997. At the time, Guertin officials were not aware of the law that bars sex offenders from working with children, lawyers for the school have said.
McEnany remains barred from ever teaching in New Hampshire.
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