Chessare appointed interim head of Caritas Christi

BRIGHTON — Caritas Christi’s board of governors appointed John B. Chessare as interim president and secretary May 25 after the previous president, Dr. Robert Haddad, resigned in the face of accusations of sexual harassment.

Chessare is currently the president of Caritas Norwood Hospital and senior vice president for quality and patient safety of the Caritas Christi Health Care System.

“The board appreciates Dr. Chessare’s willingness to undertake this important position,” said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley in a statement. “His commitment to work with and to lead Caritas Christi at this moment will be critical to maintaining our mission of providing exceptional medical care to so many in our archdiocese.”

Chessare came to Caritas Christi in 2005 from Boston Medical Center where he served as chief medical officer for seven years. He holds degrees from Boston College, the University of Rome School of Medicine and the School of Public Health of the University of Michigan.

The search for a permanent replacement will begin immediately, the archdiocesan statement said.

Haddad was accused of sexual harassment by over a dozen female employees who said they had been subjected to unwanted hugs and kisses.

“Acting on Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley’s recommendation, the board of governors of Caritas Christi Health Care System voted to recommend to the corporate members of Caritas Christi that Dr. Robert Haddad’s employment be terminated,” a separate statement announcing Haddad’s resignation said.

The board also voted that if Haddad chose to resign, he would be offered a separation agreement for a continuation of salary and certain benefits for a period of 10 months. Haddad resigned after an extended, five-hour board meeting.

“The events that have brought us to this moment are very unfortunate and serious, not only for those directly impacted but for the entire Caritas Christi Health Care community,” said Cardinal O’Malley in the statement. “Our actions this evening recognize that all complaints of sexual harassment will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”

The cardinal and board of governors reiterated their commitment to providing a working environment free from sexual harassment, it added.