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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

New clergy sex abuse & cover up lawsuit is filed

Alleged child molesting cleric has never been “outed” before

He now lives a block from a school with other accused clerics

He belongs to a controversial religious order that faces 22 other abuse allegations

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse will
-- disclose and discuss a new civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit against a priest who has never been publicly accused before,
-- blast his supervisors who lead a controversial, abuse ridden religious order, and
-- urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes to call police immediately.

They will also prod San Francisco’s archbishop to aggressively seek out others who have been hurt by clerics in this religious order.

Thursday, Feb. 24 at 1:15 p. m.

On the sidewalk outside the San Francisco Catholic headquarters, One Peter Yorke Way (corner of Geary Blvd. & Gough) in San Francisco

Two-four clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (

In 1993-94, a 15 year old student was repeatedly sexually abused by a Salesian priest, Fr. Gerald (Jerry) Wertz, a teacher and counselor at St. John Bosco High School (562 920 1734) in the LA suburb of Bellflower CA. The suit charges that “for more than 50 years,” the Salesians have “facilitated the sexual molestation of vulnerable children and covered up for their child molesters once abuse was known.” It names 22 other proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting California Salesian clerics.

Wertz is believed to be living at the Salesian Provincial Residence, 1100 Franklin Street in San Francisco, a block away from the 1,100+ students at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory. As recently as 2006, five of the eight Salesians holding positions of responsibility at this provincial house were also accused child molesters.

Wertz is not listed as “retired,” so SNAP assumes he is still involved in some kind of ministry.

The suit uses a little-known state insurance code provision to charge church officials with sexual battery, negligence, and negligent retention/supervision and failure to warn others about Wertz.

The lawsuit states that under the California Insurance Code, church officials are required to provide the victim with a written notice of when his statute of limitations would expire. Because Wertz’ supervisors helped pay for the victim’s therapy) but failed to disclose this date, the victim can take legal action even now, years after the actual crimes. (This is believed to be the one of the first cases for child sexual abuse filed in California under this insurance code section.)

The victim, filing as Joe Doe, still lives in California but will not be present at the news conference. SNAP is not a party to the litigation. It’s filed in LA County Superior Court and a copy will be posted at Defendants include Wertz, the Salesians, and the school. The victim is represented by LA attorney Anthony Demarco (310 854 4444) and Sarah Odegaard (651 227 9990, 612 616 4218) and Michael Finnegan (651 227 9990, 612 205 5531 cell) with the St. Paul MN-based firm of Jeff Anderson and Associates.

A similar news conference is being held today in Los Angeles.

Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, [email protected]), Tim Lennon (415-826-4852, [email protected]), David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected], Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688, [email protected])

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests