Keith Westrich, associate commissioner for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, who long worked on programs to get high-school kids ready for life after graduation, was placed on leave and then retired after his name was published in a list of former "clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor" issued by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
In a statement today, DESE said:
On July 26, the St. Louis Archdiocese released a list of former clergy who have had substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor made against them in connection with incidents alleged to have occurred before 2003. A Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education employee, Keith Westrich, was included on the archdiocese's list. The Department placed him on leave immediately upon becoming aware of the allegations and began looking into the matter. Mr. Westrich left the employ of DESE effective Aug. 9.
"We remain in contact with authorities in Missouri," a DESE spokeswoman added.
Westrich, 64, was ordained a priest in 1981 and was "removed from ministry," according to the Archdiocese of St. Louis list, which provided no further details. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the list was the first time that Westrich's name had ever surfaced in connection with child abuse.
Westrich moved to Boston, where, at least by 1990, he was working as a "career specialist" in West Roxbury High School, helping students with career issues as a representative of the Boston Private Industry Council, which matches Boston high school kids with local employers. By 1994, he had become head of the PIC's ProTech program, which helped arrange job training and internships for Boston high-school students.
He later moved to the DESE, where he focused on similar issues involving getting high-school students ready for life after school. In 2018, he earned $120,000 a year, according to a Pioneer Institute database.
In a statement, St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said the list
Is the result of a long and extensive investigation conducted by a third-party agency staffed with skilled investigators, formerly of the FBI and state law enforcement. The results were provided to the Archdiocesan Review Board—a board composed of a majority of lay members who are not employed by the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The Review Board produced the list and shared it with me for final review. I have accepted the results of this investigative process.