Bishop Guertin teacher abuse lawsuit bumped due to COVID-19 precautions

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NASHUA, NH — The lawsuit alleging the religious order that operates Nashua’s Bishop Guertin High School knew about a teacher’s history of sexual abuse is not going forward as scheduled.

The lawsuit brought by a former student against Bishop Guertin High School and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart Order was set for a jury selection earlier this month in the Hillsborough Superior Court – South, but it was recently reset to Sept. 21 due to the COVID-19 precautions.

Brother Shawn McEnany died in 2017. Photo/bishopaccoutability.org

The former student, now an adult living in New York, claims that Bishop Guertin teacher, Brother Shawn McEnany, sexually assaulted her when she was a student during the 1990s.

According to the lawsuit, McEnany was convicted in 1988 of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl when he was a teacher at the St. Dominic Regional High School in Lewiston, Maine. St. Dominic was also owned and operated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. As a result of that conviction, McEnany was required to register as a sexual offender and he was barred from teaching in Maine, according to the lawsuit. In 1990, Bishop Guertin hired McEnany to be a teacher in Nashua.

According to the lawsuit, school officials knew about McEnany’s conviction and hired him anyway.

A former administrator at Bishop Guertin said the school knew about McEnany’s record when it asked him to teach at the school in 1990, but did not think he would pose a threat because Guertin was an all-boys school at the time, according to an Associated Press report. The school began admitting girls in 1992.

The alleged victim started attending Bishop Guertin in 1992. In November of 1995, when she was a senior, McEnany allegedly forced himself on her in a classroom, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges at least one other incident of sexual assault.

McEnany would end up getting arrested in 1997 for failing to register as a sex offender, and being a teacher despite being a sex offender, which is illegal in New Hampshire. Those charges were later dropped. McEnany went on to become a social worker in Rhode Island. He died in 2017.

Several brothers with Sacred Heart involved with Bishop Guertin were accused of abuse on the early 2000s, including former headmaster Leo Labbe. A class-action lawsuit resulted in numerous settlements with purported victims. Sacred Heart settled child sexual abuse claims in June 2004 concerning accusations against brothers Guy Beaulieu, Roger Argencourt, Leon Cyr, Alfred Laflamme, and Leo Labbe.

Bishop Guertin is considered a private, and not a part of the New Hampshire Catholic Diocese.