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Retired Arlington Priest Charged With Sexual Abusing Minor – NBC4 Washington



A retired priest and former director of the Arlington Diocese Office of Child Protection and Safety has been charged with sexual abuse of a minor, state prosecutors announced Tuesday. 

Terry Specht, 69, of Donegal, Pennsylvania, was indicted by a grand jury of aggravated sexual battery of a child under age 13 and sexual abuse of a child over whom a custodial or supervisory relationship existed.

The victim came forward about the alleged assault in 2019, the Attorney General’s Office said. The alleged abuse occurred between March and September 2000.


“Children should always feel comfortable around religious leaders in their life, without fear that they could somehow hurt them,” Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement announcing the charges. “I want to encourage any Virginian who may have information about this or any other instance of clergy abuse to please come forward.”

The Diocese of Arlington said in a statement Tuesday they had received two separate allegations involving Specht, one in 2012 and another in 2019. Both times, the diocese said law enforcement was immediately notified. 

Following the first allegation, Specht was placed on administrative leave and the diocese’s Review Board conducted an investigation, which found the allegation to be inconclusive, the diocese said. Criminal charges weren’t brought in relation to that allegation. 

The diocese said it reported to law enforcement the second accusation against Specht in 2019 and “was never notified as to the status of the investigation.”

The diocese said it found out about Specht’s indictment through the news media. 


Specht served as a priest in Arlington from 1996 to 2012 and as director of the Diocese’s Office of Child Protection from 2004 to 2011. In 2012, after he was placed on administrative leave, he was granted medical retirement due to an illness and has not served in priestly ministry since then, the diocese said. 

In Specht’s capacity as director of the diocese’s Office of Child Protection, he had an administrative role and was an instructor, and “never oversaw the investigation of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, nor did he have a role in priestly assignments,” the diocese said. 

This is the third defendant charged as part of Attorney General Mark Herring and Virginia State Police’s investigation into possible sexual abuse of children by clergy in the state’s Catholic dioceses.

Specht’s trial is scheduled for October 2022. 


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