Donahue: ‘I would like to publicly apologize’

Field proponent calls his words ‘egregious and demeaning.’

Terry Donahue, a longtime proponent of replacing the field at MVRHS with synthetic turf, is apologizing for his vulgar comments during a Zoom meeting. -MV Times

Terry Donahue, the synthetic turf field proponent who uttered a vulgar obscenity aimed at an opponent during Thursday’s Oak Bluffs planning board meeting, has issued a public apology.

In a letter sent to The Times on Sunday, Donahue asked for forgiveness from Susan Desmarais, whom he interrupted during a Zoom session, with a comment that referenced a slang term for a woman’s genitals.

“I would like to publicly apologize to Susan Desmarais for the offense and hurt caused by my remarks during her statement at the March 31, 2022, Oak Bluffs planning board meeting,” Donahue wrote. “While I was unaware the mic was on, it does not take away from the egregious and demeaning nature of the remark. The responsibility for that statement is mine and mine alone, and one I have had to live with in the past days with the women in my life. I apologize and ask for both Ms. Desmarais’ forgiveness, and that of the entire community.”

Donahue had been under fire from members of the school community after making the statement toward the end of public comments made by Desmarais.

In her comments to The Times Friday, Desmarais called on Donahue to publicly apologize. “Quite frankly, I don’t know what has happened to our community. It felt like verbal violence. That’s what it was,” she said. “If anyone thinks I’m going to be bullied, they are woefully wrong. I’m not going to back down.”

In a comment on The Times website, Desmarais accepted Donahue’s apology: “I appreciate and accept your apology.”

Meanwhile, school officials sent a letter of their own on Friday, attempting to distance themselves from Donahue. In that letter, signed by Superintendent Matt D’Andrea, Assistant Superintendent Richie Smith, MVRHS Principal Sara Dingledy, and school board chair Amy Houghton, they denounce the comment without naming Donahue: “The MVRHS School Committee and school administration denounce the comment, and want to express our apologies to the community member who was sharing her views. While the person who expressed the abhorrent language is not affiliated with, a spokesperson for, a consultant to, or otherwise engaged with the school system, he has been a vocal proponent of the project.”

While Donahue’s role in the project may not be official, he has been a constant presence in the synthetic turf debate for the past eight years.

Donahue told The Times in December that he was responsible for hiring and paying Laura Green, Ph.D., a consultant who has downplayed the possible pitfalls of installing the synthetic turf as it pertains to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS.

Meanwhile, public records released show Donahue is a constant presence in email chains that also involve Green, D’Andrea, Houghton, and field design consultant Chris Huntress.

The field project was approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission in a split vote. The planning board is looking at the potential impact of the field on the town’s water overlay district as part of a special permit process that includes public hearings like the one held Thursday, March 31.


  1. It is refreshing to see a public apology that explicitly takes responsibility for the actions taken. Good on Mr Donahue for not using weasel words or trying to make excuses. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new era of mutual respect and understanding among people who just have a difference of opinion.

  2. I think I speak for many here when I say thank you Terry for what I am sure is a heartfelt apology.
    And thank you Susan for you gracious acceptance.
    I agree with Harrison.

  3. You don’t speak for me, Don Keller.

    Terry Donahue has a history of abusive language towards women, calling them the C word and B word publicly.

    He’s only sorry he got called out by DES Action USA and the media. This attention has cast a big spotlight on the field and how Green (who Donahue hired) misled the community, lied about the EPAs opinion of PFAS and instead of giving clear warnings of the risks, she minimized the danger and withheld information.

    So in a way, thank you Terry Donahue for the outburst as it’s grabbed everyone’s attention on the very real health risks with the field.

    • Please use examples of the actual malice you purport. State your examples of Terry using this language before. Please use facts when you try to attack someone in a public forum.

      • “Please use facts when you try to attack someone in a public forum.”

        Someone seriously wrote that about Terry Donahue. The irony would be funny were it not so sexist and hypocritical.

        The sad fact remains. There actually are those who glom onto a no-choice apology as if it’s medal-worthy and refreshing– and not entirely the result of being publicly caught and shamed for disgusting behavior stemming from a disgusting, misogynist mindset. Remember when Trump was caught in his hot mic “p****-grabbing” remarks? Half the country thought that was the end of his political career. But no, hatred and disgust and abuse toward women can always be overlooked and even condoned if there’s an apology– until it’s your daughter, your mother, your friend who is abused like Susan was abused.

        But let’s not publicly sully the character of abusers by using facts of misogyny after they are caught attacking a woman’s femaleness– for her daring to disagree with their opinions. That’s the problem. Women simply are not allowed to speak without risking these outrageous attacks by people like Donahue.

        Do people hear what they’re saying when they comment here?

  4. I respect and admire Susan’s dignified grace in her response to the apology she was owed.

    Take note: women do not thank their abusers for apologizing. They may accept the apology and appreciate it, but let’s be real. Donahue mentioned in his apology that he didn’t know his disgusting verbal assault could be heard. This means that privately demeaning a woman for being female is normal for him. He apologized because he was publicly caught being a misogynist. End of story.

  5. Terry Donahue got caught. I am still reeling over his words and behavior. I don’t think he should be near any of us in meetings. If “boys will be boys” I don’t want to be in the room or any conversation of any kind with them.

  6. This is just another example of the unconscionable bullying employed by proponents of this misguided project, from the respected coach who defied and shouted down the town moderator in West Tisbury to the profane zoom bombers and whomever put shell casings in a public servant’s bag. Supporters of natural grass fields just want what’s best for the kids and the environment and for that they get traduced, abused and even threatened with violence. Enough.

  7. Terry is a good person ..He made a HUGE slip the tongue ..Everyone has the best interest of the children playing the field . Be kind and listen to each other ..You can make it work.

    Shellie Johnson

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