Town: Fahey admitted to wrongdoing

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Jul. 10—Former Andover Youth Services Director Bill Fahey admitted to the misconduct that led to his firing, according to court documents.

"The investigator issued a report which made detailed findings that Fahey had engaged in inappropriate conduct. Those findings were corroborated by other witnesses, including Fahey's own admissions, and by other evidence, including Fahey's own text messages," according to the town's response to Fahey's lawsuit written by attorney Leonard Kesten.

Kesten's response details how the town sets a higher bar for its employees rather than "merely avoiding 'criminal or sexual misconduct.'" He also explicitly rebuffs that Fahey's firing was part of a "vendetta" by Town Manager Andrew Flanagan and that there was any wrongdoing in Fahey's termination.

The response comes just over a month after Fahey first filed his lawsuit alleging defamation by Flanagan and that he was wrongfully terminated. Both Fahey's lawsuit and the town's response rely on a report created by attorney Regina Ryan from Discrimination and Harassment Solutions. The town paid $13,425 for 54 hours of work over eight weeks, Flanagan has said.

The report was largely based on complaints first investigated by the Essex District Attorney's Office, Kesten wrote. The complaints did not rise to potentially charge Fahey with any crimes, so instead the DA advised the town to look into the allegations, Kesten wrote.

Ryan used a videotaped interview with a 26-year-old woman as the basis for the investigation, Kesten previously said.

In the interview, which was independently obtained and reviewed by The Eagle-Tribune, the now 26-year-old describes an intimate though non-sexual relationship with Fahey that started when she was 15. She alleged spending long hours with him individually and that he would discuss his sex life with her.

Fahey's lawyer Daniel Murphy denied all of the woman's allegations against the former youth services director.

The entirety of the report — which includes further interviews with the woman, other witnesses and text messages, according to Kesten — has yet to be released.

Town officials replied to a request for the report by blacking out nearly all 140 pages of the document, save for the already publicly available employee handbook and Fahey's union contract. The Eagle-Tribune is currently appealing the town's response to the Massachusetts Secretary of State's Office, which ruled Thursday the town has 10 days to provide a less redacted version of the report to the public.

"It is unclear how the report cannot be redacted to preserve the confidentiality of complainants and/or voluntary witnesses," wrote Rebecca Murray, supervisor of the records.

Fahey has publicly stated that he wants the report released, but is bound by a nondisclosure agreement he was forced to sign by the town.

The nondisclosure agreement was deemed "necessary to prevent Fahey from improperly disclosing or misusing the inherently private information in the report regarding program participants and their families," Kesten wrote.

Also, neither Fahey nor his lawyer have attempted to make the report public by asking the town to release it or petitioning to have him released from the agreement in court.

"They've never even asked us," Kesten said in an interview. "Not that we would necessarily agree, but they haven't asked."

Kesten did not detail Fahey's admissions, however, he did reject the claim that the woman at the center of the investigation was found not to be credible. She was corroborated on multiple occasions, he said.

"It's not a question of credibility because of what he admitted doing," Kesten said, referencing the investigation that led to firing Fahey. He added that Fahey's lawsuit "infringed" on the report.

The town's Friday response also shed more light on Fahey's previous suspension in 2017.

"In December 2015 it was brought to Fahey's attention that a minor student at the high school had complained that the same employee was pursuing the student through personal texts; that high school staff verified the allegations, including the texts; that despite this Fahey took no action; that the employee continued to have contact with teen-aged AYS program participants; and that the employee left AYS in May 2016 to take a new job elsewhere," Kesten wrote.

Fahey said in his lawsuit that he promptly suspended an employee and reported the matter to human resources.

However, Kesten explained that payroll records showed the employee took vacation and unpaid leave instead of being suspended as Fahey alleged in his lawsuit.

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