RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Amid his ongoing investigation into sexual abuse by clergy, Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced that a retired priest is facing two felony charges for alleged sexual assault against a minor in Virginia.
According to a statement shared by Herring’s office on Tuesday, Dec. 28, the former priest — identified as 69-year-old Terry Specht of Donegal, Pennsylvania — also served as the director of the Arlington Diocese Office of Child Protection and Safety from 2004 to 2011.
Court records from Monday, Dec. 20 say the Fairfax County grand jury decided to indict Specht for aggravated sexual battery of a child under the age of 13, as well as sexual abuse of a child over whom a custodial or supervisory relationship existed.
According to the indictment documents, on or between March 1, 2000 and Sept. 30, 2000, Specht is accused of sexually abusing “G.H.,” a boy who was under 13-years-old at the time, in Fairfax County.
You can read the grand jury’s indictments below:
“Children should always feel comfortable around religious leaders in their life, without fear that they could somehow hurt them,” said Herring. “Our joint investigation with the Virginia State Police into potential clergy abuse in Virginia remains ongoing, and I am proud of the work that we have done so far. I want to encourage any Virginian who may have information about this or any other instance of clergy abuse to please come forward. No matter how long ago the incident occurred, we will take it seriously and make sure that you get the help and support you deserve.”
Officials say the complainant in this case came forward in 2019 as part of the ongoing investigation into clergy abuse. Specht’s trial is scheduled for October 2022.
“Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt,” the attorney general’s office said in Tuesday’s statement. “Specht is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.”
Specht is reportedly the third defendant charged as part of an ongoing investigation by Herring and Virginia State Police into potential criminal sexual abuse of children in Virginia’s Catholic dioceses.
If you or someone you know has additional information about these or any other instances of abuse, you are asked to contact the Virginia Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064 or at www.VirginiaClergyHotline.com, both of which are available 24/7 to receive reports of clergy abuse.