Category Archives: Sangre de Christo Retreat Center
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.
Lawsuits allege sex abuse by ex-Cathedral principal
Three men recently filed separate lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by a former Cathedral High School principal and a priest in Las Cruces, according to court records.
Two of the lawsuits named as defendants Brother Samuel Martinez, the El Paso Catholic Diocese and the NOSF Inc. (New Orleans-Santa Fe District), formerly Brothers of the Christian Schools of Lafayette, La.
One of two lawsuits involving Martinez alleges religious leaders used the Sangre de Cristo Retreat Center in Santa Fe to hide priests who were accused of assaulting or molesting minors, instead of reporting them to the authorities.
The other lawsuit, which is against the El Paso Catholic Diocese, the Las Cruces Catholic Diocese and Our Lady of Health Parish in Las Cruces, involves a former priest identified in the court records only as “Santiago.”
“We were told that he (Santiago) is deceased and was a Franciscan friar from Mexico,” said S. Clark Harmonson, an El Paso lawyer who represents the plaintiffs in all three lawsuits.
A plaintiff referred to in court records only as “L.A.,” was a minor when he allegedly was abused by Santiago at the Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, N.M., where Santiago lived and which was then the retreat center for the El Paso Catholic Diocese.
“On information and belief, Santiago abused other boys at Our Lady of Health Parish,” court records said. “The Diocese of El Paso knew or should have known of the sexual abuses of L.A. by Santiago and or the dangerous sexual propensities of Santiago.”
“L.A.,” who was an altar boy in 1978 when the alleged abuse occurred, is seeking a jury trial in connection with the allegations.
All three plaintiffs claimed that they suffer from severe emotional and psychological distress, and seek compensation for treatment.
No official was available at either diocese on Wednesday to comment on the allegations, and neither was anyone available at NOSF Inc., in Lafayette.
In the other two lawsuits, the plaintiffs identified as “John Doe” and “B.C.” alleged that Martinez abused them.
John Doe alleged that he was a student in 1970-71 in New Orleans at a school operated by the former Christian Brothers Schools in New Orleans (NOSF Inc.), a Catholic order that provided education in Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Colorado.
Martinez, who was a Spanish teacher then, allegedly “repeatedly sexually abused John Doe at the Christian Brothers School, according to court records, and that “Martinez sexually abused other minors before and after the time he abused John Doe.”
Around the same time that John Doe allegedly was abused, another minor boy, John Doe II, also a student at a Christian Brothers School, accused Martinez of abusing him as well.
“Martinez admitted to the principal that he touched John Doe II inappropriately,” court records said, and that the order he belonged to (NOSF Inc.) sent Martinez to the Sangre de Cristo Retreat for 100 days.
No further investigation was conducted to determine whether Martinez had abused other children before he was transferred to Cathedral High School in 1972. He was appointed the principal of Cathedral in 1976 and held that position until 1985.
Cathedral is a top private Catholic high school for boys in the El Paso region.
The Brothers of the Christian Schools, District of New Orleans-Santa Fe (NOSF Inc.), was under contract to run the school at the time.
“During his tenure at Cathedral High School, Martinez abused many other minor boys,” court records alleged. “When numerous reports of abuse surfaced in the early 2000s, Brother Martinez was again secreted to Santa Fe, where he was placed under a written ‘Safety Plan’ which curtailed (his) access to children.”
Harmonson said that church officials again failed to report the allegations to police.
“B.C.,” one of the plaintiffs, alleges that Martinez abused him in 1980 when he was a freshman at Cathedral High School.
The De La Salle Christian Brothers Provincials of the United States-Toronto Region is closing its Sangre de Cristo Center in Santa Fe in August, according to an announcement on the order’s website at sangredecristo.org.
In January, the El Paso Catholic Diocese settled for $1.6 million a previous lawsuit involving Martinez that two former Cathedral students had filed.
“We’ve heard that Martinez is in Louisiana now and is very ill with cancer,” Harmonson said.
Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6140.