Regis High School, one of the nation’s top Catholic schools, said it plans to fire the Jesuit priest who is its president after an investigation found he had engaged in misconduct sexual intercourse involving multiple adults, including school employees.
Reverend Daniel Lahart, who has served as president of Regis, a prestigious Manhattan boys’ school, since 2016, has been on administrative leave since late February, the school said in a statement. His dismissal will take effect on April 21, the school said.
“The investigation is now nearing completion and the Board of Directors has determined, based on the findings of the third-party investigator, that Fr. Lahart engaged in inappropriate and unwanted verbal communications and physical conduct. , all of a sexual nature, with adult members of the Regis community, including subordinates, ”wrote Anthony DiNovi, chairman of the board, in an email to the school community on Sunday.
He added: “This behavior was not consensual and, moreover, continued despite express requests from the parties concerned for the behavior to cease.”
Father Lahart’s dismissal comes at a delicate time for the Roman Catholic Church. All of her New York State dioceses are under investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James for her handling of sexual misconduct.
Last year, Ms James sued the Diocese of Buffalo and three bishops linked to it over what her office described as a cover-up for years of clergy sexual abuse. Investigations into the state’s other seven Catholic dioceses are ongoing, and church officials say they have cooperated with investigators.
Mr DiNovi said in Sunday’s statement that Father Lahart refused to participate in the investigation, but he did not say which third group had conducted it. Citing privacy rules, he said the school would not disclose any further information about the investigation or its findings.
“Know that the council did not take its decision lightly and took seriously its obligation to act with transparency, integrity and compassion in the service of our community, both vis-à-vis Fr. Lahart and to members of our community who have been wronged by his conduct, ”he wrote. “We are committed to ensuring a safe, respectful and caring workplace for all current and future Regis staff.”
Regis High School is New York’s most prestigious Catholic school, with a long list of notable alumni that includes Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and actor Colin Jost. It does not charge tuition fees and its graduates regularly attend the best public and private universities in the country.
Mr. DiNovi said in the statement that Father Lahart would be replaced on an interim basis by Christian Talbot, a layman with deep experience in the world of Catholic secondary education. Mr. Talbot previously spent 14 years at Regis Faculty.
Phil Klay, a former Regis student and Marine Corps veteran who won the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction, said Mr. Talbot had been his English teacher and was “important enough to me as a writer” . He said he thought Mr Talbot’s appointment as interim chairman was a reassuring sign.
“I know it took people to see him step into this role because we have a lot of respect for him,” Klay said.