An Annandale priest of the Diocese of Arlington who from 2004 to 2011 was in charge of the diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection was placed on administrative leave Wednesday pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct involving a male minor in the late 1990s.
According to the diocese, the investigation is in its initial phase, and no final determination has yet been made regarding the allegation. “The Fairfax County Police Department was notified when the diocese received the allegation, and the diocese is cooperating fully with law enforcement,” the diocese said in a statement Wednesday.
Fairfax County police spoksesperson Luc y Caldwell said the Rev. Terry Specht of Annandale has been under investigation since February, but that no charges have been filed against him.
“Rev. Specht denies the accusation,” the Diocese said in its Wednesday statement. “The Diocese of Arlington has received no other allegations of misconduct against Rev. Specht. Like all priests, diocesan employees and volunteers who work with children, he underwent an official background check early in his tenure.”
According to the diocese, Specht served as a parochial vicar at St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax from 1996 to 2000, as chaplain and assistant principal at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax from 2000 to 2004, as the Director of the diocesan Office of Child Protection and Safety from 2004 to 2011, and as administrator and pastor of Holy Spirit Church in Annandale since 2007.
Holy Spirit Church officials have denied comment on the case, but according to the church website, Specht attended St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., the University of the State of New York, and the University of Hawaii. Following retirement from the U.S. Navy he attended Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. His first assignment as a priest was at St. Mary of Sorrows parish in Fairfax Station.
“Any allegation of abuse deepens the pain felt by all Catholics, and particularly survivors of abuse. 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,” said Catholic Bishop Paul S. Loverde in a statement.