Revere Police said on Tuesday afternoon that there would almost certainly be no criminal charges taken out in the investigation into alleged misconduct at Immaculate Conception (IC) School.
Furthermore, Police said the situation seemed to be a misunderstanding that got out of hand quickly.
“We’re confident after investigating the matter that it is coming to a conclusion and there will be no criminal charges taken out – pending a further investigation,” said Lt. John Goodwin. “We honestly feel that it just appeared to be an incident that grew legs quickly due to maybe some poor judgment and maybe a lack of policy at the school. There appears at this point to be no malicious intent here at all.”
That police investigation, however, will not save the jobs of three members of the IC community, including lead Parish Administrator Father George Szal, a popular and vocal member of the community since coming to Revere several years ago.
Szal was removed from his position immediately last week.
Also removed by the Archdiocese last week were IC Principal Alison Kelly and one teacher (who is not named). A custodian, who was the focus of the investigation, was placed on leave, but will likely not have any charges leveled against him.
Last Tuesday evening, Jan. 12, lighting erupted around the school as the Boston media descended upon Winthrop Avenue to get the story around a statement sent out by the Archdiocese.
The statement came after a vague letter from the Archdiocese that went home to parents on Monday about alleged misconduct at the school – though that misconduct was not spelled out or explained.
The statement on Jan. 13 read, “Within the past week the Archdiocese of Boston has learned of the potential indecent exposure by a worker at Immaculate Conception School in Revere during the course of using the boy’s bathroom, which is intended for the exclusive use of the students. We have been informed of three potential incidents where this may have occurred during the course of the school day over the past month and one-half.
Upon first learning of this news during the past few days, the Archdiocese directed that the worker be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. Additionally, this matter has been reported to the proper authorities for their review.
Schools and parishes have strict guidelines and policies to follow when such matters are brought to their attention. As a parish school, the pastor is ultimately responsible for insuring that all staff adhere to these policies. With regards to Immaculate Conception in Revere, the pastor, principal and a teacher have resigned their positions due to their failure to report these possible incidents in a timely manner.”
Szal, Kelly and the teacher were removed for not immediately reporting what they knew, which is a violation of the strict zero tolerance policy developed after the priest sex abuse scandal of the early 2000s. The firings seemed to be a message to all in the Archdiocese about the importance of these regulations.
“When it comes to the safety of our children, there can be no breakdown in following well-established and effective policies,” read the statement. “When mistakes are made we must hold ourselves accountable. We are grateful that the pastor, principal and teacher have accepted responsibility. This is not a reflection of their entire professional and ministerial careers. It is the result of a failure regarding this specific issue. By taking this action today, we believe it serves as teaching moment for our entire community to reinforce once again the importance of staying vigilant in the protection of our children.”
Revere Police found out about the matter on Monday night and began an investigation late last week, interviewing the student that had made the allegation.
The allegation came, sources told the Journal, due to the fact that the custodian sometimes used the boy’s bathroom near the gym, which is apparently near the custodian’s office. It has apparently been common practice for a number of years.
About one and a half months ago, the student told his parent that the janitor had used the bathroom when students were there on a few occasions.
The parent called the school and asked that perhaps a change in policy might be in order and she wanted to talk about that.
There were apparently two other calls, and no immediate action was taken on the suggestion.
However, several sources indicated that the parent had never intended to unlock such a maelstrom on the school with the suggestion.
Investigators said they have not officially closed the case, but expect to do that imminently after a review by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, which has been helping with the investigation.
In the interim, for the Parish, the Archdiocese has appointed the Rev. Charles Bourke of Winthrop’s St. John the Evangelist Church to lead IC.
The Catholic Schools Office will appoint an interim principal to lead the school.