Lawsuit Filed Against the Diocese of San Jose and Bellarmine College Prep

A new lawsuit has been filed against a Jesuit-run school in San Jose. We are grateful to this survivor for coming forward and hope his example encourages others who may be suffering in silence to come forward and make a report to police.

While it is important that Jesuits West acknowledge the harm caused by Br. William Farrington, it is just as important that they reveal who knew and when they knew about his abuse. The Jesuit brother was moved from place to place with the knowledge of his Order's superiors and the bishops in the geographical dioceses where he worked.

Bellarmine College Prep in the 1960's, when this case of abuse is said to have occurred, was still part of the San Francisco Archdiocese. Its current leader, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, is one of the few hold-outs among the United States Catholic bishops who have yet to publish a list of abusers. Br. Farrington, of course, should be on that list. We renew our call for Archbishop Cordileone to release an honest, comprehensive list.

We also call on Archbishop Cordileone and San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath and the current superior of Jesuits West to reveal all they know about Br. Farrington's time in the San Francisco Bay Area. Similarly, we call on officials at Bellarmine to review their files to excavate Br. Farrington's history at the high school so that it can be used to help this survivor and – any other of his victims – to come to terms with the circumstances of their abuse. Br. Farrington had access to thousands of boys during each of the several times he was stationed at Bellarmine. A letter should go to each of those alums asking them to report anything they know about Br. Farrington related to the sexual abuse of minors at Bellarmine to law enforcement.

It is also a fact that other clergy, brothers and lay employees at Bellarmine have abused boys at the school. There is even an allegations that a girl from another Catholic high school in the area was abused while participating in a Bellarmine program

It is time for Bellarmine to voluntarily provide a comprehensive report of abuse at the school, instead of allowing that information to trickle out slowly over the next three years with every new lawsuit that is filed. Bellarmine's leadership can set an example by doing something the institutional Catholic church has not done; come completely clean in honor of abuse survivors.

Bellarmine is one of the most successful private schools in the United States. It has produced industry, athletic, political and artistic superstars. Its alums include the Mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo, a former mayor, Tom McEnery, a federal appeals judge, John B. Owens, one of the world's wealthiest men, John Sobrato, Olympic champion Pablo Morales and at least one prominent academician, Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen.

These men, and so many others from the school, are leaders in many fields. The fact that the school has produced judges, district attorneys, mayors and legislators means it has a deep, deep network of power and influence. 

In the past, this power and influence often meant sex abuse by priests and others in parishes and schools was hidden, and the victims silenced or paid off. We call on these powerful leaders to lend their voices to the survivors. We call on Bellarmine's current leadership and board of trustees to open their books, tell all, and to live up to its reputation as a leader in progressive thought. 

CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP California (dan.mcnevin@aol.com, 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP California (melanie.sakoda@gmail.com, 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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