Former Student Sues Bishop Guertin Over Alleged Sexual Assault
By Lauren Chooljian
New Hampshire Public Radio
May 30, 2018
A graduate of Bishop Guertin High School is suing the Nashua Catholic school for not protecting her from sexual abuse by a faculty member she alleges she suffered in 1995.
The faculty member in question, Brother Shawn McEnany, was convicted as a sex offender in Maine in 1988, yet was hired as a teacher by Bishop Guertin a few years later. McEnany died in 2017.
The lawsuit, filed by alumna Larissa Troy, alleges that the Bishop Guertin administration and Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the Rhode Island religious organization that runs the high school, should have known that McEnany was “dangerous and a threat to the health, safety and welfare of children” at Bishop Guertin.
In a complaint filed earlier this month, Troy alleges she was sexually assaulted multiple times by McEnany in the fall semester of her senior year. In one incident during class, Troy said McEnany forced himself on her and masturbated on her.
Troy says in the lawsuit that she only recently began to make the connection between psychological disorders she has suffered and the alleged sexual abuse in 1995.
In a statement, an attorney for both Brothers of the Sacred Heart and Bishop Guertin High School said both parties first learned of the lawsuit Wednesday, and as of late Wednesday night they had not yet “had an opportunity to investigate the allegations in the complaint.”
“The Brothers and the school know that sexual misconduct committed by a teacher, especially one who is a religious brother, violates human dignity and is contrary to the Brothers’ and the school’s principles and to their mission,” the statement read. “The Brothers’ and the school’s first concern is the emotional well-being of the former student. Accordingly, they will reach out to this former student through her lawyers to offer appropriate support pending their investigation.”
Brothers of the Sacred Heart runs 11 schools around the country, including Bishop Guertin, which is a Catholic, co-ed college preparatory day school.
Troy’s lawsuit comes as Concord boarding school St. Paul’s School grapples with its own sexual abuse scandal. The prep school currently faces two lawsuits alleging sexual assault among students and by faculty. Two of Troy’s attorneys, Jonathan Barnes and Eric MacLeish, are also representing alleged victims in one of the St. Paul’s cases.
This isn’t the first time Bishop Guertin has had to manage fallout from past abuses by faculty members. In 2004, the school settled five lawsuits by former students who said they were molested by Brother Guy Beaulieu, a teacher at the school from 1971 to 1991. A 2008 Associated Press story reported that Beaulieu admitted in a sworn deposition to sexually abusing as many as 20 students while he worked as a coach and math teacher.
According to multiple news reports, McEnany was charged in 1988 with having oral sex with a 15-year-old female student at St. Dominic Regional High School in Maine, where he was a teacher. Bishop Guertin hired him in 1990, where he taught religion and led campus ministry.
In 1997, an Associated Press report questioned the Bishop Guertin administration about their decision to hire a convicted sex offender. New Hampshire state law barred anyone convicted of sexual assault from working as a teacher, coach, or other supervisor of children. The school’s top administrator said then that he felt safe hiring McEnany “because his offense involved a girl and the school, at the time, was for boys only.” Bishop Guertin became a coed school in 1992.
The 1997 AP story lead to an investigation by police, and McEnany was arrested and suspended from teaching, though the charges were dropped in 1999.
In the joint statement released through their attorney Wednesday, Bishop Guertin and Sacred heart said McEnany has not been a teacher at Bishop Guertin High School since 1997 and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart has taken steps since then to assure that McEnany had no interaction with minors.