Administrator from Presentation HS Became Superintendent of all Catholic Schools, SNAP Calls for Wider Investigation
Church officials in San Jose have vowed to investigate following a damning report that exposed years of sexual abuse and cover-up at a local Catholic school. We are concerned that organizational rot may have put students at every single school in the Diocese of San Jose at risk and call on the California Attorney General to investigate.
Following the explosive report into a culture of abuse at Presentation High School, the Diocese of San Jose scrambled to distance itself from the situation. They first denied purview over the school, despite the fact that it was operating within Diocesan boundaries, with the permission of Diocesan officials, and educating Catholic children affiliated with the Diocese. They were later forced to concede that there to some overlap of lay personnel specifically named in the report.
Most disturbingly, it has been revealed that one of the administrators who helped permeate the culture of abuse and minimization at Presentation High School, Marian Stuckey, was also the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of San Jose between 1993 and 2009. She was at Presentation prior to her employment at the Diocese, and under her watch, the Spanish and French teacher John Fernandez operated with impunity. He was first reported to her in the 1980s, but that outcry, as well as subsequent ones, were ignored by Stuckey. Despite the repeated efforts at least one victim to prevent Fernandez’s continued employment, he worked at the school for almost 20 years. There are victim statements from five former students on the website Make Pres Safe, maintained by Kathryn Leehane, the courageous woman who first spoke out publicly about the problems at the school. The investigation heard allegations of abuse involving Fernandez and 14 students.
Inexplicably, the Presentation report did not reveal that Stuckey went from Presentation to the San Jose Diocese. We have to wonder why this important piece of information was not mentioned.
If Stuckey protected Presentation’s brand and covered up abuse there, we are concerned she did the same as the Superintendent of all San Jose Diocese schools. There are approximately 35 schools within the Diocese. Each and every facility should now be investigated by law enforcement, and parents who sent their children to these institutions should be up in arms.
The Diocese of San Jose claims it has now launched an “independent” investigation in response to the Presentation report, but we believe that this probe should be overseen by secular investigators, not church-hired ones. It is time for the Attorney General of California, Xavier Becerra, to step into this scandal and use the powers of his office to investigate wrongdoing, determine whether any crimes can be prosecuted, and root out any other bad actors at Presentation and the Diocese of San Jose. Over 15,500 children go to those schools today. Exponentially more are alumni and were exposed to the culture of abuse and secrecy that Stuckey and the diocese propagated.
This scandal underscores the importance of naming not just priests, but also lay employees on diocesan-curated lists of sex abusers. It is clear that nuns, brothers, and school teachers have also hurt children in Catholic institutions, and what we, parishioners, and the public want is for boys and girls to be safe from everyone, not just priests. Bishop Oscar Cantu and other Diocesan officials in San Jose should move swiftly to add the names of Presentation HS abusers and other lay employees to their list immediately.
(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)