The head of one of New York City's top Catholic schools has been removed from his position amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving adult members of the school community, including some underlings, according to the school's board of trustees.
Father Daniel Lahart was placed on leave from his position as president of the prestigious Regis High School on the Upper East Side. A letter from the chair of the all-boys school's board of trustees said that 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." He is now being removed from the role permanently.
Fordham Professor of Christian Spirituality Dr. Colt Anderson said that Catholic Schools with the proudest histories can sometimes be the most secretive.
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
"All the kids who are going there now know they have a special privilege being there," he said, and added that it's a good sign Regis launched a swift investigation which resulted in consequences.
The Jesuit Religious order, which runs the school, has not yet described what Lahart's inappropriate behavior was, but s spokesperson said the order agrees with the decision to remove him. Anderson cautioned religious orders can sometimes be tempted to protect their own members rather than come clean about their behavior.
"And they think about redemption, and they think about forgiveness. Those are deeply baked into the way they approach these kinds of problems and so they don't want to publicize these things," Anderson said. He said that the quick termination shows that some reforms within the church are working in the wake of the Catholic sex abuse scandal.
The chair of the trustees said that the sexually inappropriate behavior with adults at the school continued even after they asked him to stop. Investigators said that no students were part of the alleged inappropriate behavior.
Lahart could not be reached for comment. Before the misconduct allegations surfaced, he was found of posting Facebook photos of famous Regis graduates, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Saturday Night Live's Colin Jost. It was unclear if he would be allowed to continue Catholic ministry in some other capacity.