Longtime Baltimore Catholic school teacher under investigation for alledged sexual abuse of minor in '80s
A former longtime teacher at Mount St. Joseph High School is under investigation for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor in the mid-1980s, according to his religious order.
The Xaverian Brothers, a lay order, has removed Brother Robert Flaherty from ministry while an investigation by the state’s attorney’s office is ongoing, according to a statement by Brother Edward Driscoll, the congregation’s general superior. Flaherty was a teacher at Mount St. Joseph, a Catholic school in Southwest Baltimore, from 1972 to 1993 and from 2008 to 2010.
Flaherty was suspended last week from his teaching job at St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Mass., where he worked from 1999 to 2007 and again beginning in 2010.
The Xaverian Brothers sponsor both Mount St. Joseph and St. John’s.
Detectives from the Baltimore Police Department opened an investigation in April into an allegation of abuse, according to police spokesman Detective Jeremy Silbert.
A priest who was accused of improper sexual relationships with girls in Pennsylvania and later allowed to minister in Baltimore was not the subject of any abuse reports in Maryland, according to the priest’s religious order and the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Mount St. Joseph’s President George E. Andrews Jr. said in a letter to the school community that the allegation does not involve a current or former student at the all-boys school, which is known for its athletics. The school learned of the allegation after city civil authorities notified the Xaverian Brothers, Andrews said.
“The safety and wellbeing of our students is paramount at Mount Saint Joseph,” Andrews said in the letter. “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.”
“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 in the statement.
Under its protocols, the congregation works to respond promptly to sexual abuse allegations and participates in an independent review board with other religious congregations of men that provides public accountability outside of the Xaverian leadership, according to Driscoll. The brothers also offer intervention, care, treatment and other services, he said.
An explosive grand jury report on pervasive child abuse in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania has called into question the actions — or inactions — of late Baltimore Cardinal William H. Keeler, who previously was hailed for his transparency in handling abuse cases.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
At St. John’s Prep in Massachusetts, Flaherty helped establish the computer science department, according to a 2013 report on the school’s website. The article notes that Flaherty had been inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Mount St. Joseph High School, his alma mater. Flaherty was honored for his contributions as a football, ice hockey, basketball and baseball coach at Mount St. Joseph, the piece says. He also has coached students at St. John’s.
Flaherty earned a bachelor’s of science in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech and a master’s in engineering mechanics from the University of Tennessee, according to St. John’s website. He also holds a doctoral degree in computer education from Nova Southeastern University.