To the editor:
It was inevitable that former Andover Youth Services Director Bill Fahey would sue the town over his firing, given that he rallied friends in town and even those living outside of Massachusetts to write to our two local newspapers in his defense and have people in town post lawn signs.
And it is a certainty that town leadership, including Town Manager Andrew Flanagan and all five members of the Select Board who have publicly expressed full agreement with the firing of Fahey for cause, were prepared for the likelihood that he would sue.
There is no way that the possibility of a lawsuit being filed by Fahey upon his firing was not discussed at length by Flanagan and the Select Board with town counsel once the independent investigation of the allegations of sexual misconduct involving a minor was completed.
Fahey deserves his day in court since he feels he has been wronged. This is his right.
And if the facts show that he did not commit the offenses that were the basis for his being fired, then he fully deserves whatever award the court grants him, if the suit shows that Fahey was wronged by town officials.
On the other hand, given the nature of the allegations, if the facts disclosed confirm the allegations and the findings of the independent investigation, then transparency in government, especially transparency surrounding the behavior of government employees and those with close interactions with minors as the essence of their job, requires that the outcome not result in a confidential settlement.
While the name of the minor who made the allegations needs to be kept confidential throughout this proceeding, the worst possible outcome regardless of whether the facts exonerate Fahey or support his firing will be for the lawsuit to be settled outside of court, with the findings and terms of a settlement kept secret. Way too much is at stake given the nature of the allegations and Fahey’s counter-claims.
At this stage, with all town officials saying to the public that Fahey has been fired for misconduct involving a minor, and Fahey telling newspaper reporters he has no idea why he was fired and now suing the town, it is time for the facts, not innuendo and counter-innuendo, to be aired.
A confidential settlement will only result in making elected officials complicit in either backing an unjustified firing or in the aftermath of misconduct by a town employee involving a minor by covering up the facts in agreeing to pay off Fahey to go away.
As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, "sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Andover needs a lot of sunlight now given the toxic claims and toxic counter-claims that have been made by town officials and by Bill Fahey.