A Dominican brother who allegedly molested a boy at a Dover priory and his Cambridge apartment from 1965 to 1968 went on to become an elementary teacher in the Boston Public Schools for 31 years, newly released church files reveal.
And, the records show, Archdiocese of Boston officials knew of the alleged abuse when they discovered former Brother John Dominic Karow, now 66 and retired in Brenham, Texas, was teaching third grade at the Grew School in Hyde Park, but hesitated telling school officials.
“We accidentally found out where Mr. Karow resides (and) works,” the Rev. Brian Flatley, the church’s clergy personnel secretary, wrote to abuse claim intake coordinator Sister Rita McCarthy in November 1994, three years before Karow’s retirement.
Flatley, who coincidentally was running an after-school self-esteem program at the same school, wrote he had discussed the “strangeness” of Karow’s teaching style with Grew’s principal, but not the alleged abuse.
“Because we are still doing a three-year pilot program at the Grew School with Northeastern University, I have no desire to jeopardize it. However, if [the alleged victim] does not go through with it, we should probably speak to the School Department,” he wrote.
The alleged victim, who brought his complaint to the Dominicans and the Boston archdiocese earlier that year, said recently he also had learned of Karow’s teaching job, but was discouraged from reporting it by McCarthy.
“She told me, ‘We have nuns involved in that school. If we say anything to the school they might take the nuns away’,” said the alleged victim, who settled his suit for $115,000 in 1996, conditioned on a confidentiality agreement.
“She said, ‘We’ll have the nuns keep an eye on him.'”
Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna M. Morrissey said she could not confirm if the church ever warned the school. School department spokesman Jonathan Palumbo, who confirmed Karow’s employment from November 1966 through Aug. 1, 1997, said he was unable to immediately determine if the school had received any correspondence about Karow from the church.
In the suit, Karow is alleged to have initiated sexual contact with the then-12-year-old in the priory’s showers. That evolved into oral and anal sex at the retreat and Karow’s Cambridge apartment, where the youth was shared with another man, the complaint states.
Records show Karow sold his Hyde Park home a year ago and moved to Texas.