Mass. education official leaves post after being included on list of clergy sex abuse claims in St. Louis
An associate commissioner for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has left his position after he was included on a list of 61 former Catholic priests in Missouri credibly accused of child sex abuse allegations, officials said.
Keith Westrich was on a list released last month by the St. Louis Archdiocese that included “substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor made against them in connection with incidents alleged to have occurred before 2003,” Jacqueline Reis, a state education spokeswoman confirmed in an e-mail to the Globe Tuesday.
The archdiocese released the list on July 26, and Westrich was immediately placed on leave once officials learned of the allegations, Reis said.
Westrich, according to the agency, applied to retire from the department effective Aug. 9, after he was placed on leave.
“The retirement board will determine eligibility,” Reis said.
It was not immediately Tuesday clear how long Westrich had worked for the agency, or what his specific duties entailed.
Attempts to reach Westrich Tuesday evening were unsuccessful.
According to the St. Louis archdiocese, Westrich was ordained in 1981 and has been removed from ministry. In announcing the list, church authorities did not detail the alleged abuse, say when it may have occurred, or when Westrich left the priesthood.
The list was the result of a long and extensive investigation “conducted by a third-party agency staffed with skilled investigators, formerly of the FBI and state law enforcement,” according to the archdiocese.
The list has been turned over to the Missouri attorney general’s office, which is reviewing clergy personnel records, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson wrote in a letter announcing the list.
Messages left with the St. Louis Archdiocese were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.
“Publishing these names will not change the past,” Carlson wrote. “Nothing will. But it is an important step in the long process of healing. And we are committed to that healing.”