Town Manager Andrew Flanagan fired Andover Youth Services Director Bill Fahey in 2021 after an investigator found he overstepped boundaries, including counseling a former AYS client who worked in the pornography business in a series of “very personal” text messages, according to previously undisclosed portions of the report.
The details were part of a Lawrence District Court judge’s dismissal Monday of Fahey’s appeal of the Town’s denial of his unemployment claim. Fahey, who admitted to a state ethics violation in June, is also suing Flanagan for wrongful termination in Essex County Superior Court. That lawsuit is currently in the discovery phase.
Andover officials had previously declined to release portions of the report detailing the misconduct that led to Fahey’s firing under the exemption for personnel records in the Massachusetts Public Records Law. By policy, the Town of Andover does not comment on pending legal matters; Daniel J. Murphy, Fahey’s North Andover-based attorney, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning.
Andover hired an independent investigator in 2021 to look into allegations Fahey had a sexually inappropriate relationship with a woman — identified as X in court documents — who participated in AYS programs beginning in 2011 when she was 17. While the investigator dismissed the woman’s account of the alleged sexual misconduct because of a lack of corroborating evidence, she did find “other behavior that violated the employer’s policies,” according to Monday’s ruling.
Fahey “often crossed boundaries by hugging program participants and telling them that he loved them,” the ruling said. The ruling also said Fahey went to the home of X’s mother in 2016 after learning she had moved to California and was working in pornography.
“She denied the rumors about her daughter, whereupon Plaintiff provided her with her daughter’s stage name, and he helped her search and discover the pornographic material,” a summary of the investigator’s report in the unemployment claim ruling said.
When X returned for a visit to Andover in 2019, she met Fahey at the Youth Center from about 9 p.m. until after midnight, with the investigator noting they were alone in the building. Fahey drove her home and, after the meeting, sent text messages telling her he loved her and she was beautiful.
The message exchanges continued for several months, during which time the woman said she was working in pornography and was upset over choices she had made. In a series of texts reviewed by the investigator, Fahey continued to counsel the woman without conferring with AYS staff and social workers, even though his role “was that of a director and supervisor; he was not to act as a counselor.”
“If you expect to find peace in your heart and joy in your life then you must learn to use your compass,” Fahey said in one message sent from his Town-issued phone. “So what if you did porn? It’s just a reaction to your pain.”
He signed off another message by saying “Love you always.”
“The review examiner reviewed other text communications that were very personal and demonstrated the Plaintiff’s efforts to counsel X as she dealt with trauma and emotional distress,” Monday’s ruling said. “The social workers and staff workers from the AYS program neither counseled X nor or were they ever introduced to her.”