Fairfax County Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct Put on Leave

Priest accused of misconduct with underage boy in ‘90s

Thursday, Apr 19, 2012  |  Updated 10:01 PM EDT
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Diocese Reexamines Background Checks After Misconduct Allegation

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A Catholic priest from Fairfax County who served as director of his diocese's Office of Child Protection and Safety was placed on leave after he was accused of sexual misconduct involving an underage boy in the late 1990s.

The priest, Rev. Terry Specht, denies the allegation, according to the Diocese of Arlington. Specht has been pastor at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale, Va., since 2007. He also served as chaplain and assistant principal at Paul VI Catholic High School from 2000 to 2004.

He was director of the child-protection office from 2004 through 2011, screening new priests and employees. Now, all of the background checks he reviewed must be reexamined, News4's Richard Jordan reported.

“Any allegation of abuse deepens the pain felt by all Catholics and particularly survivors of abuse,” Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde said. “We are committed to full cooperation with law enforcement regarding this allegation, and I have directed an independent investigator to review the actions and decisions made by Father Specht during his tenure as director of child protection.”

The alleged victim contacted the diocese in late January and would have been a teenager at the time of the alleged misconduct, said diocese spokesman Michael Donohue.

The diocese has notified Fairfax County police, which is investigating. Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said no charges have been filed yet and that individuals with relevant information should contact police.

The diocese is also investigating.

Specht grew up in Greensburg, Pa., and was ordained in 1996 after a 21-year career in the Navy, where he worked on submarines, according to a church bio.

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