Almost four months after GBH News exposed allegations of misconduct at the Our Father’s House homeless shelter in Fitchburg, shelter manager Kevin MacLean has resigned, the organization said Tuesday.
Six former Our Father’s House employees told GBH News earlier this year that they endured months, or years, of verbal and sexual harassment from MacLean, while also being directed to discriminate against homeless shelter clients and falsify shelter records. They said appeals to shelter officials, local police as well as state and federal authorities were brushed off. Advocates for the homeless also alleged that clients of the shelter had been abused.
The Fitchburg police and Our Father's House both launched investigations of the allegations -- that were first raised at a January meeting of the Fitchburg Human Rights Commission -- but the police closed their investigation in April, concluding there was not enough evidence to press charges.
The shelter's independent investigation is apparently wrapping up. In a statement to GBH News Tuesday, spokesman Doug Pizzi said, "In a letter dated June 1, 2021, Our Father's House Shelter Manager Kevin MacLean resigned from his position effective immediately. OFH's investigation into issues raised at the Fitchburg Human Rights Commission and in other forums will be concluding shortly."
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Tara Rivera, a treatment advocate at Recovery Centers of America, one of the first people to make the allegations against MacLean, told GBH News, “The fight is still not over yet just because Kevin has put in his resignation, because Kevin is not the only problem at Our Father’s House.” Rivera said the shelter's senior leadership and board of directors knew of the allegations for years and should all be replaced. "They need a complete makeover from top to bottom," she said.
“To me, it was not a healthy environment," said Felicia Martinez, one of the employees who came forward to GBH News. "I was there for six, seven months and in the end I couldn’t do it. I’d been working in shelters for ten years — it’s been my life career — but I just couldn’t do it no more.”
In an interview with GBH News in February, Our Father’s House Executive Director Judith Nest-Pasierb said she had no prior knowledge of the allegations made by advocates of sexual or physical abuse. But weeks earlier, in aJan. 18 email to the Human Rights Commission obtained by GBH News, she confirmed those allegations had been investigated, and dismissed.
“In this particular case, all accusations were both independently and officially investigated without merit,” Nest-Pasierb wrote.
After GBH revealed other allegations, she released a statement saying, “We take these allegations seriously and will do our utmost to learn the truth.”
MacLean has been on administrative leave since Feb. 26.