The Salesians of San Francisco, who were previously disgraced by holding the record for accused, convicted and sued priests in the Bay Area and northern state, have been amping up the the presence of their infamous clan once again.
The “troubled order” as writer Ron Russel described the notorious Salesian province of San Francisco in the San Francisco Weekly in October of 2006 , were entangled in a web of accusations, shuffling, coverups and denial; resulting from decades of ping-ponging sex abusers back and forth from churches, camps, schools and retreats.
A record number of Salesian priests names appeared on the molestation radar, and the Salesian provincials and damage control personnel scrambled to mitigate and dissolve the negative press and lawsuits. But what they could not dissolve what was the truth.
There are at least 23 accused local Salesian sex abusers named; and they are either admitted, convicted, sued, or named for various sex crimes against children.
Some of the named sex offenders are: Fr. Larry Lorenzoni, Fr. Richard Presenti, Fr. Bernard Dabenne, Fr. Steve Whelan, Bro. Sal Billante, Bro. Jesse Dominguez, Fr. Jim Miani, Fr. Harold Danielson, Bro. Mark Epperson, Fr. Mario Blanco, Bro. Anthony Juarez, Bro. Ernie Martinez, Fr. Emanual Palayo, Fr. Juan Sanchez, Bro. John Verhart, Fr. Fleming, Fr. Al Mengon, Bro. John Vas, Bro. Ralph Murguia, Bro. Dan Pacheco, Fr. Gerald Wurtz, Mr. Sam Vitone, and Mr. Rick Bonds.
In 2006, the Salesians made headlines by placing 5 out of 6 priests who were accused or convicted on their authoritative staff at the S.F. Franklin Street Provincial headquarters, another staggering and embarrassing record.
Some of them were removed, and the Salesians defiantly bucked public scrutiny by maintaining positions for the other accused predators. But in 2008, the Salesians were forced to settle a 20 million dollar lawsuit in California for several of their local clergy. After a disastrous and humiliating attempt to win a court case in superior court to defend the nest of accused sex offenders, the decision to litigate the case blew up in their face.
Meanwhile, in the East Bay Area, the Salesians spent an estimated five million dollars fighting just one case alone for sex abuser pastor Fr. Steve Whelan, which lasted almost 6 years in litigation, and they lost by court jury trial. Fr. Whelan had been kept in ministry by Cardinal Levada, and had access to children at the St. Peter and Pauls grammar school in San Francisco the entire time. The Salesians appealed the lost court case several times, and lost the final appeal in High Appellate Court in late 2008.
Fast forward to the present time, and the Salesians are up to their old habits again, apparently forgetting the past, and the accused predators are gaining placement and notoriety as if nothing had ever happened.
As of July 1, 2012, the Salesian San Francisco Province now boasts the presence of 3 accused pedophiles on their website, still named as clergy, after they were named in multi-million dollar suits that the Salesians have settled. Those clergy are: accused serial rapists Fr. Larry Lorenzoni, Fr. Gerald Wurtz, and Bro. Ernie Martinez.
Across town, at the infamous “house of the accused”, St. Peter and Pauls Church and grammar school, the Salesians boast the name of the Parochial Vicar – accused molester Fr. Harold Danielson.
Further south of the City, at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, is the Pastor, Fr. Al Mengon, another Salesian priest who was named in court documents as an accused sex offender. Fr. Mengon also has the audacity to be listed as holding the position as a member of the Board of Directors at St. Francis Catholic High School.
But the most outrageous Salesian debacle must certainly be the choice for spokesperson for the “blood of Christ” itself. Fr. Steve Whelan, who was found liable by a court jury trial in a civil case, speaks for the purity of “sacramental wine” in a currently viewed tv documentary. The documentary lists Whelan as a Reverand, and is filmed at the St. Peter and Pauls Cathedral in San Francisco.
At a recent interview at St. Peter and Pauls Parish in San Francisco, child abuse protesters were told by the San Francisco Salesian clergy that the Salesian rapist Fr. Steve Whelan was transferred back to Salesian High School in Richmond. Incredibly, this is the campus Whelan worked at which is named as the very site where Whelan committed violent acts of sex abuse; wheras Fr. Whelan was found liable by the court for child molestation.
In conclusion, the number of accused Salesian rapists and child sex abusers now known to be back in positions in the local North Cal clergy arena is six.
Just like back in the “good old days.”
The Salesians have always been known to be record holders when it comes to boldness and placement of accused child predators, despite any public opinion of recklessness. And the Catholic hierarchy’s stance on this debauchery?
Probably, and historically – “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”