REVERE — The Archdiocese of Boston named a temporary administrator Wednesday for a Revere parish where a Catholic school worker was placed on leave after a report of three possible indecent exposure incidents. The parish pastor and two school employees, including the principal, have resigned.
The Rev. Charles Bourke has been tapped by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley to lead the church and school at Immaculate Conception in Revere on an interim basis, an archdiocesan spokesman said in an e-mail. Bourke is pastor at St. John the Evangelist in Winthrop, said the spokesman, Terrence C. Donilon. An interim school principal has not been named yet, Donilon said.
The shakeup came as school officials from the Archdiocese of Boston met Wednesday morning with parents at the school, which serves students in prekindergarten through Grade 8. A second meeting with parents was scheduled for Wednesday evening.
The archdiocese revealed Tuesday that it had received reports of three incidents of “potential indecent exposure” by the worker in a boy’s bathroom at the school over the last six weeks. The bathroom is intended to be only used by students, the archdiocese said.
The pastor, principal, and one teacher at the school have resigned their positions for failing to “report these possible incidents in a timely manner,” church officials have said. The archdiocese has not announced the names of the worker who was suspended or the three people who resigned.
The pastor and principal are identified on the parish and school websites as the Rev. George Szal and Alison Kelly. Szal did not return an e-mail Wednesday and Kelly did not return messages seeking comment.
Revere police and the office of Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said they are investigating.
In interviews outside the school after the morning meeting, several parents said the worker is a janitor. Some parents said they remain comfortable sending their children to the school and described the incidents in the bathroom as a misunderstanding that did not involve inappropriate conduct. The parents said the superintendent of Catholic Schools, Kathleen Power Mears, attended the meeting.
Carlos Zuluaga said his son is a third grader at the school and is very happy there. He said he feels bad about the principal’s resignation. “Everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “She made a mistake.”
Joe Rizzo’s son is in the first grade. He said the janitor “seems nice” and probably exercised poor judgment.
Rizzo said the meeting left questions unanswered and many parents were frustrated.
“They just kept repeating the same thing,” he said.
One man who has two children enrolled said he stepped out of the session because he was so angry.
“They’re not telling us a thing,” said the man, who refused to give his name. “It’s ridiculous.”
Another parent, Steve Johnson, said he was put at ease after the superintendent said the reports did not include claims of the worker engaging in any physical contact with students. He said he worries the situation may have been exaggerated and that “this good school is getting a bad rap.”
“I think it should have been dealt with forthright when the principal first found out,” Johnson said. “It was a lapse in judgment in everyone who was involved.”
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has called on O’Malley to have the pastor defrocked and to bar the employees from further work with the church.
David Clohessy, the agency’s executive director, said there is no excuse for delaying a report about a potential sex crime involving a child. “Church officials know this. They are incredibly smart, well-educated people being advised by top-notch lawyers and [public relations] professionals,” he said.
He said there is no reason why the Boston Archdiocese — given its decades of experience in facing sex abuse claims — should have failed to act promptly.
“They’re responding typically, not perfectly,” Clohessy said.