A consecrated Catholic lay order removed a school teacher from ministry amid an investigation against him for an allegation of past child sexual abuse.
The Xaverian Brothers suspended Brother Robert Flaherty from ministry after the Baltimore Police Department informed the order of an allegation that Flaherty had sexually abused a child in the mid-1980s. The Baltimore police opened an investigation into the allegation in April, which is ongoing, and Flaherty has since been removed from his teaching position at St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Massachusetts. (RELATED: Pennsylvania Prosecutes First Priest In Wake Of Sex Abuse Report)
Flaherty formerly taught at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore from 1972 to 1993 and again from 2008 to 2010. He taught at St. John’s from 1999 to 2007 and began again in 2010. The Xaverian Brothers sponsor both schools.
George E. Andrews Jr., president of Mount St. Joseph, clarified in a letter to the school community that the alleged abuse did not involve a current or former student at the school.
“The safety and wellbeing of our students is paramount at Mount Saint Joseph,” Andrews said a letter, according to The Baltimore Sun. “We routinely review and implement policies, procedures, and trainings to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect our students. If anyone has knowledge of misconduct of any kind, we urge you to come forward and to report it immediately to civil authorities.”
Headmaster Edward Hardiman also said there was no allegation of abuse against Flaherty at St. John’s, according to The Associated Press.
Though the Xaverian Brothers are a Catholic order based in Baltimore, they are not connected to the archdiocese of Baltimore. Sean Caine, a spokesman for the archdiocese said that diocesan officials had not received any other allegations against Flaherty.
Brother Edward Driscoll, general superior for the brothers, said the order is in full cooperation with the state’s attorney’s office.
“The Congregation is saddened when it learns of an incident, even one that occurred decades ago, and recognizes that the effects of abuse can be life-long,” Driscoll said.
As for why an allegation of abuse in the mid-1980s has come forward only now, Caine said it is common for past victims to come forward during times of public scrutiny on the church.
“It is common for people to come forward with allegations of past abuse at times like these, when so much attention is given to the Church’s last problems with child sexual abuse,” Caine said. “We encourage anyone who was abused or suspects others have been abused to report it to the police and, if the suspected abuser worked for the Church, to let us know.”
Flaherty served as a coach for baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey at Mount St. Joseph. He also helped found St. John’s computer science department.
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