A state education official is off the job after allegations recently surfaced that he sexually abused one or more children decades ago.
The NBC10 Boston Investigators have learned that Keith Westrich, an associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, resigned after his name appeared on a list of former priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Westrich, who has not been charged with a crime, was identified on July 26 by the Archdiocese of St. Louis as one of 61 former clergy members who face what it called "substantiated allegations" of sexually abusing a minor. Allegations were substantiated if they were determined to be more likely true than not true, based on all facts available to third-party investigators, according to the church.
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In a video accompanying the list of accused priests, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson said disclosing their names to the public is "the right thing to do"
"It will be painful for all of us to see the names of clergy, some of whom you have known quite well, accused of behavior we can barely allow ourselves to imagine," Carlson said.
Responding to questions Tuesday from NBC10 Boston, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis declined to provide details regarding the nature of the allegation against Westrich, or to identify the parishes where he served. Westrich was ordained in 1981 and left the ministry in 1986 after being stripped of his permission to perform his duties as a priest, according to the church.
Up until days ago, Westrich was an associate education commissioner for the state, managing programs to get teens into college. According to a biography published online, Westrich was most recently director of college and career readiness at the state’s Center for Vocational, Workforce, and College Readiness Programs.
State payroll records show Westrich has been employed by the education department since at least 2010. His annual salary was listed as $120,895. Westrich’s job did not involve unsupervised contact with students, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
In a statement released Tuesday night, education officials said they placed Westrich on leave after his name appeared on the list of accused priests. Westrich subsequently left the job effective Aug. 9 and intends to retire, according to the statement. The retirement board will determine his eligibility for pension benefits.
Efforts to reach Westrich Tuesday by phone and at his home were unsuccessful.