Priest-president of elite NY Jesuit high school sacked, sexual misconduct against adults alleged

Regis High School in New York City. Regis High School in New York City./ ajay_suresh via Flickr (CC_BY_2.0)

A Jesuit priest who was president of an all-boys high school in New York City has been removed after the board of trustees determined he engaged in inappropriate, non-consensual sexual misconduct with several adults, including subordinates.

 

Anthony DiNovi, chair of the Regis High School board of trustees, sent an April 11 message to the high school community announcing the removal of Father Daniel Lahart, S.J. from his position as school president. The 59-year-old Lahart had been president since 2016.

 

DiNovi said the board had put Lahart on administrative leave on Feb. 28 after learning of allegations he had “acted inappropriately with adult members of the Regis community.” The board hired a third-party investigator to review the claims.

 

Based on the investigator’s findings, the board has concluded “that Fr. Lahart engaged in inappropriate and unwelcome verbal communications and physical conduct, all of a sexual nature, with adult members of the Regis community, including subordinates.”

 

“This conduct was non-consensual, and moreover, continued notwithstanding express requests from the affected parties for the conduct to cease,” said DiNovi.

 

DiNovi said the investigation was committed to due process, adding “Fr. Lahart was invited to participate, but declined to do so.”

 

“Last week, the school notified Fr. Lahart that the board—with the approval of the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus—intended to remove him for cause as President, which we expect will take effect on April 21, 2021,” said the message.

 

DiNovi said the school would not disclose further details about the investigation to protect victims’ privacy. Regis is an all-boys school run by the Society of Jesus. It has faculty and staff of both sexes. The school’s student body numbers over 500. The Upper East Side Manhattan school does not charge tuition and instead relies on donations from alumni and other benefactors.

 

“Please know the board did not come to its decision lightly and took seriously its obligation to act with transparency, integrity, and compassion in service of our community, both with respect to Fr. Lahart and to those members of our community who were harmed by his conduct,” DiNovi said. “We are committed to ensuring a safe, respectful, and caring workplace for all current and future Regis staff members.”

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Lahart was the 22nd president of the school. The 2015 announcement of Lahart’s selection as president noted his 14 years as president of the Houston, Texas school Strake Jesuit College Preparatory. He previously served as vice president for finance and administration at Washington, D.C.’s Gonzaga College High School and as provincial assistant for secondary education for the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. In that role, he was the provincial’s delegate to middle and secondary schools.

 

Lahart also had taught mathematics at Scranton Preparatory School in Pennsylvania.

 

Regis High alumni include Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn.; Father Joseph McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University; U.S. Rep. Andrew Harris, R-Maryland; and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been a leading media commentator on the novel coronavirus epidemic. 

 

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The board of trustees has named Christian Talbot, a former Regis faculty member, as interim president.