A part-time music and theater arts teacher has been dismissed from two Catholic schools as a result of allegations of sexual abuse that reportedly occurred in the early-1990s, according to a press release from the Diocese of Worcester.
The teacher, Derek P. Sylvester of Worcester, was placed on paid administrative leave Nov. 10 and subsequently dismissed Dec. 2 after an internal investigation and recommendation, according to the diocesan Office of Communications. During the investigation, Mr. Sylvester denied that any sexual abuse had occurred, the release stated.
The allegations against Mr. Sylvester were from a time prior to his employment at St. Mary Elementary School in Shrewsbury and St. Joseph Elementary School in Webster. Neither school had received any complaints about Mr. Sylvester’s behavior.
According to the press release, Judith Audette, the victim’s assistance coordinator for the diocesan Office of Healing and Prevention, received a confidential report Nov. 7, made by the alleged victim, who is now an adult. In keeping with its policies, the Diocese said it reported the allegation to the Worcester District Attorney’s office.
Representatives of the schools informed Mr. Sylvester of the allegation and placed him on paid administrative. He has not been present at either school since that time.
“No definitive judgment has been made as to whether Mr. Sylvester had committed the alleged offenses,” according to Raymond L. Delisle, director of communications and chancellor of the Diocese.
It was decided “that his continued employment would present an unreasonable risk to students,” Mr. Delisle stated.
Parents at both schools were notified of the action. “This is a troubling matter for all involved and counseling services are being made available at both school communities if requested by students, their families or staff,” Mr. Delisle noted.
The diocesan victim’s assistance coordinator can be contacted at 508-929-4363 if anyone has questions regarding the policy or any specific concerns regarding potential abuse of a child.