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December 2, 2019

Catholic Priests Abused Children for Decades at California School

Salesian School Covered Tracks of Predator Priests at Expense of Children

More stories of Catholic priests abusing children come into the light as a Californian Catholic school comes under fire for allegations of covering up child sex abuse.

CNN investigated the Salesians of Don Bosco and discovered priests and teachers at Don Bosco College, otherwise known as Salesian High School, allegedly abused the children under their care for decades. After a year-long investigation, CNN uncovered that abuse victims at the Richmond, California-based school were pressured or even threatened to not report their abuse to anyone. In multiple cases, Salesian leaders failed to report abuse cases to the authorities, other parts of the Catholic Church, and withheld information from law enforcement.  

One victim, Joey Piscitelli, claims he was raped by Don Bosco College’s vice principal, Father Stephen Whelan, while he was a student there. Instead of showing compassion towards Piscitelli and reporting Whelan to the police, the school’s principal verbally attacked the boy for speaking of the abuse.

“He was livid,” Piscitelli recalled, describing his Salesian principal’s reaction to hearing that Piscitelli reported his sexual abuse to the school counselor. “He said: ‘nobody is going to believe your word against a priest.’”

The principal, Father Bernard Dabbene, was repeatedly accused of sexual abuse over the decades, as well, but was never convicted for his abuse, instead receiving a suspended sentence. According to CNN, “the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has enabled the Salesians -- and other religious orders – to police themselves on issues of child abuse, with little to no external accountability.”

To read CNN’s full, in-depth investigation, click here.

Were You Sexually Abused in the Catholic Church? Talk to Us Today

If you were sexually abused as a minor by a member of the Catholic Clergy, you need to talk to a lawyer immediately. Recent laws have opened up new opportunities for sexual abuse survivors to hold their abusers in the Church accountable and help protect future children in the Church.

To learn more about your legal options or if you are eligible to file a claim against the Catholic Church, call us at 1.866.428.2925. Our legal professionals are available 24/7 to answer any of your questions and concerns.

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