Category Archives: california Province of the Society of Jesus
L.A. Priest Blamed for Legacy of Pain
Ten, including relatives, say the Jesuit molested them. He denies it and has not been charged.
During 16 years at Loyola High School, Father Jerold Lindner was admired as an energetic teacher exceptionally devoted to his students. Superiors lauded him as the model of “a Christian educator.” A colleague in the English department nominated him as “chairman for life.”
Others outside the school say they knew a different Lindner. Ten men and women portray the Jesuit as a molester who haunted their childhoods, abusing them on Sundays after Mass, during holiday gatherings and on Catholic family camping trips — nearly always while wearing his clerical collar.
These encounters allegedly began in the 1950s, continued through the 1970s, when Lindner was entering the priesthood, and persisted into the 1980s, while he was teaching at Loyola High, a private, all-boys prep school west of downtown Los Angeles.
Jesuit leaders say they first learned about Lindner’s past a decade ago, when his brother told them that the priest had sexually abused three nieces, a nephew and a younger sibling. After sending Lindner for a psychiatric evaluation, Jesuit superiors deemed the allegations not credible and put him back in the classroom.
Fresh charges surfaced in 1997, when two brothers asserted in a lawsuit that Lindner sodomized them years earlier during weekend retreats in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Jesuits then removed the priest from Loyola and negotiated a secret $625,000 settlement with the brothers. As before, Lindner’s superiors did not inform law enforcement authorities, parents or teachers about the allegations.
In a sworn deposition, Lindner denied ever abusing anyone. In a statement to The Times, he said: “I have devoted my life to helping people, and I insist that the accusations against me are not true.” He said the Catholic sex-abuse crisis has “created an atmosphere where people like me are presumed guilty until proven innocent.”
Lindner, 58, has never been criminally charged, and Loyola officials say they know of no allegations that he molested students or other members of the high school community. He is under investigation by L.A. County sheriff’s detectives and the district attorney’s office.
The priest’s accusers depict a man who began molesting when he was a child and continued to do so even as he soldiered through the rigorous Jesuit rituals of indoctrination. Family members and victims kept quiet and sometimes defended the priest, a Times investigation found.
Lindner’s superiors, when confronted with explosive accusations, tried to keep them “internal to the Society of Jesus,” as one Loyola administrator put it in a memo.
In interviews and legal documents, the 10 men and women have said they were molested while growing up in Los Angeles County, the San Francisco Bay Area and suburban Phoenix. Eight agreed to be identified by name in this article.
Several said Lindner ordered them to lie still while he sexually abused them. Afterward, they said, he called them “dirty” and threatened to harm them if they told anyone.
Four of Lindner’s accusers said they were so traumatized that they tried to commit suicide as teenagers. Others reported suffering failed marriages, depression, flashbacks and a loss of faith.
Many said they had remained silent until now because of a deep sense of shame and because they feared retaliation by Lindner. The alleged victims said they are angry — at the priest and at the Jesuits.
“We all want him behind bars, where he belongs,” said Tamara Roehm, 35, of Lancaster, one of Lindner’s nieces.
The priest’s mother, 80, said recently that the accounts of victims within her own family had persuaded her that Lindner preyed on young people.
“I know that Jerry needs help, and so do his victims,” Isabelle Lindner said in an interview at her Phoenix-area home. “If he wasn’t a priest and didn’t have the Jesuits standing behind him, I think he would be in jail.”
Lindner now lives in the Bay Area town of Los Gatos at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, a picturesque retreat overlooking the Santa Clara Valley.
The Jesuits say they have barred him from teaching or ministering to the public, but he is free to travel and tutor seminarians and has collected a living allowance from the order.
In preparing this report, The Times reviewed internal Jesuit records, numerous letters Lindner wrote over two decades, and documents related to the lawsuit by the two brothers, including a sworn deposition of Lindner on June 10, 1998.
Loyola High administrators last month informed parents and alumni of the allegations against Lindner for the first time. They took the step after learning The Times was preparing an article on the priest.
In a Nov. 18 letter to parents and alumni, Father Robert T. Walsh, Loyola’s president, said administrators learned of sexual-abuse accusations against Lindner in 1997 and “immediately relieved him of his teaching and school duties.” The letter made no mention of the 1992 allegations. Walsh and other Loyola officials declined to answer questions about Lindner.
A top-ranking Jesuit said no one at the high school noticed any inappropriate behavior by the priest.
“We never had complaints at Loyola High,” said Father Thomas H. Smolich, who as head of the California Province oversees Jesuits in four Western states and Hawaii. “If you look at Jerry’s professional career there, it is very successful.”
Smolich, who began his six-year term as provincial in 1999, acknowledged that the Jesuits did not notify authorities of the accusations against Lindner in 1992 or in 1997. He said that he could provide no explanation and that Jesuit records shed no light on the matter.
“There are things I wish we had done differently,” Smolich said. “If the allegations were reported today, we would contact appropriate law enforcement authorities and respond pastorally to victims.”
Jerold William Lindner was born Nov. 16, 1944, in Columbus, Ohio, into a devout Catholic family. Priests and nuns were frequent visitors to the home.
Before entering elementary school, Jerold announced that he wanted to be a priest, his mother recalled. She said his interest in the clergy never waned.
The family moved to Arizona when Jerold was 6. He served as an altar boy, joined the Boy Scouts and became an avid chess player. A gifted student, he ranked in the top four of his 115-student class during several semesters at Brophy College Preparatory, the all-boys Jesuit high school in Phoenix. Years later, he scored in the “very superior” range on an IQ test.
Members of Lindner’s family said fellow students picked on him. As a freshman, he was forced to kneel on the hot asphalt at school for hours and suffered severe burns. He often came home with stains on his white school shirts, the result of classmates pelting him with oranges.
After graduating from Brophy in June 1962, Lindner applied to become a Jesuit. The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola and is the largest religious order in the Roman Catholic Church, with about 21,000 members worldwide. Candidates undergo years of rigorous training, and members of the society must observe strict vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Lindner’s application was rejected by the order, according to members of his family. They said the Jesuits told him he needed to broaden his life. So he took a job as a courier for a title company, became leader of a Boy Scout troop in Phoenix and dated for the first time.
He reapplied to the Jesuits a year later and was turned down again, this time with the suggestion that he move out of his parents’ home, family members said.
Lindner enrolled at Loyola University in Los Angeles, a Jesuit institution, in the fall of 1963. He was accepted for Jesuit training the following June and sent to the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Los Gatos for two years to study the order’s traditions, rules and expectations.
Early on, Jesuit leaders detected psychological problems.
After Lindner returned to Loyola University in 1968 to earn his bachelor’s degree in English, a routine evaluation found that he “needs emotional and psychological maturing and stabilizing.”
In the early 1970s, he sought therapy for “depression and poor self-image” on the advice of his Jesuit spiritual advisor and suffered “bouts of panic attacks,” say personnel records and psychiatric reports.
Lindner’s aberrant behavior dated to childhood, his mother said. She said she caught her son, at age 10, inappropriately touching his 5-year-old sister in bed. Over the years, she has defended her son and rejected allegations from relatives that he abused them. She now says she has come to believe the accusations.
The sister, Kathy McEntire, also once defended her brother, but now says he sexually abused her for years.
“It started with me,” said McEntire, 53, struggling to fight back tears at her kitchen table in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.
She alleged that Lindner knelt beside her bed at night and molested her, a practice she said continued until she was about 9. “He got bolder and bolder over time, as he figured out what he could get away with,” she said.
Assigned to Teach
In 1969, the Jesuits sent Lindner to earn a master’s degree in English at St. Louis University in Missouri, where he was active in an urban Boy Scout troop. The next year, he was assigned to teach at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco.
He stayed in the Bay Area more than a decade, enrolling at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley in 1973 and being ordained as a priest in 1976. He returned to St. Ignatius and taught English there from 1976 to 1982. He was also Scoutmaster for an Oakland troop and accompanied boys on weekend camping and ski trips.
During these years, Lindner allegedly molested six children, according to sworn testimony and interviews.
One of them was McEntire’s son, Trevor. He said Lindner molested him on about 20 occasions, beginning when he was 5, during family visits to the Jesuit residence in Berkeley and when the priest made holiday trips to Arizona. He said the abuse lasted until he was 9.
“He touched me a lot,” Trevor McEntire, now 32, said of his uncle. “I tolerated it, because I didn’t know any better. I kind of blame myself for not telling anybody.”
Kathy McEntire said her son told her only recently about the abuse. She said it was devastating to learn that the same man she accuses of molesting her more than 40 years ago had allegedly violated her son. “I’m just coming to grips with this,” she said. “I am so sick and disgusted I can’t stand it,” she said.
Lindner met other alleged victims while volunteering as a spiritual advisor for the Christian Family Movement, a worldwide lay organization of Catholic couples. Lindner said Mass in private homes, heard confessions, attended monthly parent meetings and accompanied families on weekend retreats.
The two brothers who sued the Jesuits said Lindner sexually assaulted them during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend camp-outs in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1975, when they were 5 and 7.
The alleged assaults are detailed in reports by Lynn E. Ponton, a professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco and expert in sexual abuse who was retained by the brothers’ lawyer.
Ponton said the brothers told her that Lindner sodomized them and forced them to perform oral sex on four occasions in the woods. In one incident, the priest allegedly abused the two boys in a tent.
One of them, Will Lynch of San Francisco, now 35, said in an interview that Lindner coerced him to enter the tent by threatening to harm his younger brother. “Even at age 7, I knew it was wrong. I didn’t want to be there,” Lynch said. “When he grabbed me, I remember thinking, ‘I’m not getting out of this.’ ”
Lynch’s brother declined to be interviewed.
In the deposition, Lindner confirmed attending weekend camp-outs but said he had no recollection of meeting the brothers.
Will Lynch said the abuse had shattering effects. He had nightmares for years, suffered from depression and alcohol abuse, and twice attempted suicide, he said. “Many times I thought of driving down to L.A. and confronting Father Jerry,” he said. “I wanted to exorcise all of the rage and anger and bitterness he put into me…. You can’t put into words what this guy did to me. He stole my innocence and destroyed my life.”
Two women who accuse Lindner of molesting them when they were girls in the Bay Area also said they have had difficulty recovering. Both described the alleged molestations in sworn depositions as part of the Lynches’ suit and in interviews with The Times.
Krista Nemechek, a 32-year-old special education teacher in the Bay Area, said she was 7 when Lindner grabbed her in a bedroom of an Oakland home during a 1977 social gathering.
“I was wearing a dress,” Nemechek said. “He put me in this almost vise-grip of a hug. He pulled me so I was facing him, then he rubbed his hands up and down me. I remember him kissing me really passionately [and] moaning a little bit…. It just didn’t feel right in any way.”
In his deposition, Lindner said he had no recollection of Nemechek or the alleged incident.
Nemechek said the episode haunted her through adolescence. “I know he hurt a lot of people,” she said. “More than anything that happened to me, the hardest part is realizing that I could have done something.”
Debbie Lukas, 36, recalled meeting Lindner when he said Mass at her parents’ house in Oakland. Then 8, she “lit up” at the attention the priest showered on her, she said.
When she was 10, Lukas said, Lindner began making suggestive remarks and forcing deep, full-mouth kisses on her. One evening after dinner, she said, Lindner caught her alone in the basement of her home. She recalled hearing her mother’s footsteps on the kitchen floor above while the priest sexually assaulted her.
“He pushed me down on the bed. I was struggling to get away from him…. He was a big guy,” Lukas said. “I remember him covering my mouth. I could hardly breathe.”
Asked about Lukas’ allegation, Lindner said in his deposition: “I don’t remember doing this. I don’t think I did it.”
Lukas said she was despondent for years and still feels uncomfortable in her parents’ house. “I’ve had this torture all my life,” said Lukas, who runs an herbal-products business in Oregon. “I don’t trust authority. I don’t believe in God anymore…. It has shaped the foundation of who I am.”
Another of Lindner’s nephews says the priest molested him over several nights at a family reunion in Arizona during the 1979 Christmas season. The boy was 11 years old at the time.
“He was French-kissing me,” said the nephew, who spoke on condition that he not be named. “He was holding me tight, and he fondled me. It happened every night.”
In 1982, after eight years at St. Ignatius High, Lindner transferred to Loyola High and was named chairman of the English department.
Founded in 1865, Loyola is L.A.’s oldest Catholic school, occupying ivy-covered buildings on Venice Boulevard near Koreatown. Among the most competitive prep schools in the area, it has 1,096 students and 84 faculty and staff members.
At Loyola, Lindner expressed a preference for working with younger students. An evaluation stated: “Fr. Lindner was quite honest about his wish to teach frosh rather than seniors.”
In 1983, he wrote an acquaintance: “I am tutoring frosh — I don’t teach them, but I know about 110 of them now. I have a ‘hit’ list with their names and photos (a way to get to know their names). They are fun.”
Lindner organized numerous after-school activities that gradually became known as “Lindner clubs.” They included archery, backgammon, chess, Knights of FRP (a fantasy role-playing group) and remote-control car racing.
Loyola administrators praised his devotion to students. “I want to point out particularly that many of the students in your clubs would have no other avenue into the mainstream of the Loyola community were it not for your energy, ingenuity and organization,” Father Gordon Bennett, then the principal, wrote in October 1984.
Lindner served as an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 1193 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, near the Loyola campus.
And he reached out to a boy and girl he had met years earlier through the Christian Family Movement.
One of them was Debbie Lukas. Lindner sent the teenager romantic letters, calling her “my California beauty” and “the flame tree of my life” and mentioning that the residence hall at Loyola had “a place to put people up … (even you).”
Lindner also contacted Lukas’ mother, Mary Louise Taylor, and suggested that her 12-year-old son spend a weekend with him on the campus.
“I was so shocked,” said Taylor, adding that she declined.
In his deposition, Lindner described the invitation as “a joke.”
Visiting His Brother
Lindner’s move to Loyola made it easier to visit his older brother, Larry, then an LAPD patrol officer who lived in Lancaster with his family. During these visits, Father Lindner allegedly molested three nieces.
“He would hold your face, stare at you and then stick his tongue in your mouth,” said one niece, Susan Edens, now 32, who still lives in Lancaster. “I used to hate him coming over to our house, because I hated that kiss. It was horrid.”
Her sister, Tamara Roehm, said Jerold Lindner did the same thing to her many times.
Larry Lindner’s youngest daughter, Tiffany Swindler, said the priest sodomized her on three occasions when she was between 5 and 7.
“He was meaner the second time,” said Swindler, now 27. “He yelled a lot. He grabbed my hair harder than normal.” Afterward, she said, Father Lindner called her “dirty” and told her: “Bad things happen to little girls who open their mouths.”
Swindler and her father said that the priest molested the girl for the final time around Easter 1984. In separate interviews, they said Larry Lindner walked into the living room to find the priest playing with Tiffany while sexually aroused.
“I threw him out of my house,” Larry Lindner said. He urged his brother to seek treatment but did not report him to authorities.
“I trusted him,” Larry Lindner said. “I told him, ‘I’m not going to ruin your life or ruin your career. Just go get help.’ … I should have had him arrested right there. But he’s still my brother, and I did what I thought a brother should do.”
Larry Lindner said that until recently he was not aware of Swindler’s allegations that the priest had sodomized her.
Swindler said the abuse ceased when she was 8 but never stopped haunting her. She said she became sexually active at 11 and endured three broken marriages. Recently, she began undergoing therapy for depression.
“I hate him,” Swindler said of her uncle. “I hate the way he ruined my life.”
Larry Lindner retired from the LAPD in 1986, and the family moved to Oregon. In January 1992, his wife found Tiffany crying on the floor of their home after suffering flashbacks about the priest.
Larry Lindner said his daughter’s anguish made him so angry that he called Jesuit superiors to report his brother’s history of alleged sexual misconduct. Loyola’s then-principal, Father Eugene Growney, posted a memo on Feb. 3, 1992, informing the high school faculty and staff that Jerold Lindner had been placed on leave “for reasons internal to the Society of Jesus.”
The Jesuits sent Lindner to St. Luke Institute in Maryland, a psychiatric center where Catholic clergymen accused of sexual abuse are evaluated and treated. Before going, Lindner solicited letters of support from family members. His mother and two sisters submitted five letters on his behalf to Jesuit superiors.
Isabelle Linder wrote that Larry Lindner could not be believed. “Father, they are all lies!” she said.
Kathy McEntire also supported Father Lindner. “I have been informed that one of the lies being made against my brother is that he also molested me when I was in fourth or fifth grade,” she wrote. “I can assure you that in no way is this true.”
Both women said in separate interviews that they knowingly provided false information in the letters. The mother said she was trying to help her son. McEntire said she wrote her letters under duress. “Mom said if all of us did not come forward … his career would be destroyed and he would get kicked out of the church,” she said.
A confidential St. Luke report that cleared the way for Lindner to return to teaching made several references to the family letters. The report said an examination of Lindner, who told the St. Luke staff that he had never abused anyone, found no sexual disorders or “significant risk factors.”
“We see no reason why Father Lindner should not return to his usual activities,” the report said. The psychiatrists at St. Luke closed with a recommendation that Lindner go on a low-fat diet.
Richard Sipe — a former Benedictine monk and expert on sexuality in the clergy who has served as a St. Luke board member — reviewed the eight-page report at The Times’ request. He described it as “deficient and biased,” and said: “They did not provide any kind of sexual history. They did not do any investigation. They simply took his word.”
The president of St. Luke, Father Stephen J. Rossetti, said he could not comment on Lindner’s case but that in general it is difficult to determine through psychological evaluation if someone is a molester. “We are doing a clinical evaluation based on the information we have, and it’s not easy work,” he said.
Lindner returned to Loyola High in fall 1992. He said in his deposition that Jesuit superiors and Loyola administrators never discussed his brother’s accusations with him. He resumed his teaching duties and continued to receive plaudits.
“I cannot begin to thank you enough for your phenomenal generosity and commitment,” Father Walsh wrote on Nov. 8, 1992, weeks after Lindner’s return.
Students dedicated the 1993 yearbook to Lindner, lauding him as “one of the most active and popular teachers at Loyola.”
From 1992 through 1995, he escorted Loyola students on three summer trips to Europe. In late 1996, he boasted in letters to friends that 33 Loyola students had signed up for the 1997 European tour, making it the largest ever.
Lindner later wrote to say that “an unspecified illness” forced him to miss the 1997 trip because foreign travel was “not medically recommended.” In fact, he was barred from the trip because new allegations of sexual abuse had surfaced.
The Lynch brothers, breaking their silence after two decades, filed their suit against the Society of Jesus in April 1997.
Their lawyer, Michael D. Meadows, said he had to pressure the Jesuits to remove Lindner from the classroom. “There was still the same reflexive response of circle the wagons, protect the priest and the institution, and ignore the interests of the kids,” he said.
Lindner was relieved of his teaching duties in late May 1997 and sent back to St. Luke that September. He spent nearly nine months there, receiving medical and psychological treatment for depression and low self-esteem brought on by “the trauma of these allegations,” a Jesuit superior said in a deposition.
In May 1998, Lindner returned to the Jesuit residence at Loyola on condition that he no longer teach.
In the deposition, he said he agreed to the restriction to spare the school a controversy. “It could possibly put the school in a bad light with publicity if this went public,” he said.
Lindner continued to serve with the Boy Scouts at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, near Loyola, records show. Father Dennis P. O’Neil, then pastor of the church, said he was never told about Lindner’s past. “I never heard a thing,” said O’Neil, now auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of San Bernardino.
In October 1998, the Society of Jesus reached a confidential settlement with the Lynch brothers. Documents show that the Jesuits paid $625,000. Among the conditions was a prohibition against publicizing the allegations. “There was no admission to anything, no attempt to apologize,” Will Lynch said. “The Jesuits’ attitude was, ‘Let’s settle this out.’ The only issue was how much.”
At Christmas 1999, Lindner visited his family in Arizona. His younger sister, McEntire, said she confronted him about the pain he had inflicted on his victims, herself included.
According to McEntire, Lindner acknowledged that he “may have crossed the line” in his conduct with one niece and with one nephew. He expressed no regret and offered no apologies, she said.
Freedom to Travel
Since he stopped teaching at Loyola, Lindner has enjoyed the freedom to travel and work as a language tutor with few restrictions. He earned a master’s degree in linguistics at San Jose State and spent several months in Paris immersing himself in French culture. He moved to the Jesuit residence in Culver City last year, teaching English to seminarians from developing countries.
In the fall of 2001, Lindner began teaching English as a second language at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The director of the program, Tony Costanzo, said the Jesuits never informed him of Lindner’s background. “Had I known that, I definitely would not have hired him,” he said.
Lindner was transferred to Sacred Heart in Los Gatos this August. At least five registered sex offenders have resided at the Jesuit center in recent years, including a priest and brother who were recently convicted of sexually abusing two mentally retarded men. In September, the Jesuits agreed to a settlement that will pay the two victims $7.5 million each.
The center is within walking distance of downtown Los Gatos, an upscale village in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Last month, anonymously posted fliers bearing a photo of Lindner appeared in the shopping district. “Warning,” they said. “Pedophile in our community.
Lindner is living under a set of written restrictions laid down by the order, said Smolich, the Jesuit provincial superior. He said Lindner is barred from teaching or ministering to children and cannot say Mass or hear confession in church.
“The world has changed in the last nine months,” Smolich said. “For Jerry’s sake and the public’s sake, we can’t be too careful.”
Los Gatos Priest Beating Case Trial Date Now Changed to June
Pretrial motion Friday postponed until May 3, with jury selection taking place May 14 and presentation of evidence June 19.
By Sheila Sanchez April 7, 2012
Friday’s scheduled pretrial motions in the case against a San Francisco man accused of beating a priest at the Los Gatos Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in May of 2010 have been postponed until 9 a.m., May 3.
William Lynch, 44, has been arraigned on one count of felony assault with intent to cause great bodily injury and one count of elder abuse under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm or death. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The scheduled hearing was changed since presiding Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge David Cena is tied up with a homicide trial that is running longer than expected.
The pretrial motions hearing, a time for any legal issue that will arise during the high-profile trial to be addressed by the prosecution and the defense, will be followed by jury selection May 14
The presentation of the evidence is expected to start on or around June 19, instead of the earlier reported date of May 29, said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Gemetti.
Jury selection will be performed using jury questionnaires with potential jurors being called in to court and given the document to fill out and then reviewed by the attorneys.
Counsel will then meet and discuss which jurors need to be questioned for so-called “cause,” necessary in every trial to weed down the full veneer of potential jurors to the 12 jurors and alternates who will sit on the case, explained Gemetti.
Attorneys will question the jurors for any biases or any impediments to sit for “cause,” such as someone having been convicted of a similar crime or who may have a family member working in the DA’s office or law enforcement and their objectivity is compromised.
After the panel has been passed for cause, meaning there are no legal reasons why the jurors can’t sit on the case, each attorney will have 10 pre-emptory challenges that can be exercised and they’ll go back and forth to determine which jurors will be sworn in, Gemetti added.
The proceedings are taking place in Judge Cena’s courtroom, department 34 of the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice in San Jose.
“Once we’ve sworn the jury in … we’re going to stick to that schedule to the best of our abilities,” Gemetti said about the delays in the trial start date. “Obviously trials are fluid and things may change and emergencies do happen, but … once we have those 12 people and they’re told the dates, things won’t change too much.”
The questionnaire presented to the jurors will probably be several pages long containing a list of questions and topics, some inquiries from the court and some submitted by the defense and the prosecution.
Lynch is being represented by Pat Harris and Mark Geragos, with the Los Angeles-based law firm of Geragos & Geragos.
Authorities say he walked into the center’s reception area the afternoon of May 10, 2010 and asked to speak to Father Jerold Lindner. He said he had a death notification about a member of the priest’s family and then allegedly assaulted him.
The case is being closely watched by critics of the Roman Catholic Church who allege Lindner raped and sodomized Lynch and his brother when they were small boys in the ’70s while on camping trips.
If a jury convicts Lynch, he’s could serve a maximum of four years in state prison. The court, however, could grant him probation and give him up to one year in county jail, Gemetti said.
“We have been ready for trial for quite some time,” Gemetti said. “I’m quite anxious to get the matter proceeding.”
Victim Advocates Question Security Around Defrocked Jesuit Brethren
Head of Jesuit order says men are under strict supervision at center in Los Gatos.
By Sheila Sanchez January 10, 2011
The Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. One of its defrocked priests was beaten in May 2010. The alleged attacker appeared in court in December and will face a judge on Feb. 7 for a preliminary hearing in a case that will probably go to trial.
Santa Clara County prosecutors are accusing 44-year-old William Lynch of mauling Jesuit priest Jerold Lindner with his fists, said Lynch’s attorney Pat Harris. Lynch has said Lindner sodomized and raped him and his brother as young boys.
Lynch’s supporters, who include members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), plan a news conference after the hearing at the Santa Clara County Superior Court building on Hedding Street in San Jose and a march in Los Gatos, according to Harris.
The supporters are taking this opportunity to complain about the security measures at the center, which houses Lindner, 65, and five other retired priests or brethren who have faced charges of sexual abuse. They claim the men can leave the compound at any time and that the supervision plans aren’t strict enough.
The two, along with three other men, whom the order will not identify, live in the large Jesuit compound at 300 College Ave. The center includes a retirement home, an assisted-living facility and a skilled nursing infirmary. Here, 75 elderly priests live out the rest of their lives after serving in the elite order of priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Rev. John P. McGarry, the provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, said the concerns about the five men who live at the center are exaggerated.
McGarry is head supervisor at the center and leader of the 375 Jesuit priests who work in California.
He said none of the men is under investigation right now.
Connor is housed in the center’s skilled nursing facility, is confined to a wheelchair and has severe dementia, McGarry said. “He’s totally incapacitated,” he said. “Better that we take care of them there than having them be out on their own in the community.”
Lindner, said McGarry, is under a strict security plan that prevents him from leaving the center unsupervised.
“He didn’t drive himself to the hospital,” he said, referring to newspaper reports that said he had done so, which triggered victims’ protests.
He explained that nursing staff at the center attended to him, and that either one of the Jesuits in the community or one of the nurses on duty drove him to the hospital. “He wouldn’t have been able to drive … He was badly beaten up. His head was bleeding,” McGarry said.
Dan McNevin, a San Francisco SNAP volunteer, is skeptical and upset the Catholic Church hasn’t found another location to house clergy charged, accused or investigated of abuse. “Why are they living there and not in a more secure location?” said McNevin.
The deep distrust against the order, McNevin said, is caused by numerous incidents that indicate that the Jesuit hierarchy has covered up incidents to protect the order’s reputation.
“A priest who has abused should be behind bars and not living in a retreat center,” said McNevin.
McGarry has an answer to that. “If I had any concern that the men living here, who have allegations against them and who are on safety plans, were a risk to the larger community or a risk for reoffending, I would not have them living here,” he said.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office handled the Lynch incident in May because of jurisdiction issues regarding where the center is located. If something were to happen in the center’s parking lot, however, the Los Gatos Monte Sereno police department would step in, said police spokesman Sgt. Kerry Harris. But he said the center has never given the town any problems.
“We’ve never had any issues with them,” Harris said.
For those looking for assurances, McGarry points to the fact that the center has been accredited by the Austin-based Praesidium risk management group, which has established criteria regarding the prevention of and response to sexual abuse of minors by Jesuit authorities. He added that Praesidium had renewed the center’s certification in July 2010.
The five men who live at the center have served at one time or another in Jesuit schools such as Bellarmine College Preparatory, Sacred Heart Nativity School and Most Holy Trinity Parish in San Jose and Santa Clara University in Santa Clara.
McGarry said the order’s policy continues to be to turn over to criminal and civil authorities allegations of priestly misconduct with minors. The province provides pastoral care and counseling to any person that comes forward and makes an allegation of sexual abuse, he said. He said he’s met often with people who have made allegations.
Joey Piscitelli, Northern California director for the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests, isn’t buying it. “They have aided, abetted, shuffled, protected and promoted known child rapists for decades, and that’s criminal behavior,” he said.
Piscitelli, who says he was molested by a Salesian priest, won a $5 million settlement award against the order after a jury trial in 2006.
Piscitelli has protested outside the center several times, along with John Chevedden, whose brother, Jesuit priest James Chevedden, killed himself when he jumped from the sixth floor of the Santa Clara County Courthouse’s parking garage in 2005.
Chevedden accused the Jesuits of negligence in his brother’s death and in 2007 and settled with the order for $1.6 million.
He said the Lynch case is another example of how victims of abuse suffer for a long time. “It’s disturbing to see how long-lasting and traumatic the abuse is to the victims … that after 35 years it still has a strong impact,” Chevedden said.
What I also found interesting was one of the comments posted under this article:
Fr. Thomas Smolich, promoted to be the # 1 Jesuit in the USA, said a Jesuit priest and resident at the Los Gatos Center, Fr. James Chevedden committed suicide. The Jesuit Order even issued a news release claiming Fr. Chevedden’s suspicious death was a suicide. Fr. Smolich also told Fr. Chevedden’s family that the Jesuit Order would keep Fr. Chevedden’s body.
Fr. Chevedden had earlier reported to Fr. Smolich that he was the victim of Jesuit sex abuse at Los Gatos by a Jesuit Religious Brother, Br. Charles Connor. Br. Connor and Fr. Jerold Lindner were friends. Lindner helped Br. Connor with computers and both sat at the same small meal table.
Ironically or worse, the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive was Fr. Lindner, with $2 million paid out in sex abuse settlements. The Jesuit Order did not tell the police that Fr. Lindner was the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive. Fr. Lindner was scheduled to testify about his being the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Fr. Chevedden’s Dad. The Jesuit Order paid $1.6 million to settle the lawsuit. Thus Fr. Lindner avoided explaining his being last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive.