Matt C. Abbott
December 1, 2006
Abuse survivor furious at San Francisco archdiocese
By Matt C. Abbott

In July 2006, a jury "found in favor of Joey Piscitelli, a former altar boy who was abused by the Rev. Stephen Whelan, a vice principal, when he was a freshman and sophomore at the high school from 1969 to 1971," according to a story in the Contra Costa Times. Piscitelli was awarded $600,000.

More on the story can be found here.

Piscitelli is furious at the San Francisco archdiocese and the Salesian order, to which Whelan belongs, for defending Whelan.

Piscitelli recently sent the following letter to Bishop George Niederauer:

    Dear Bishop Niederauer,

    I have a letter from your office, written by Bishop John Wester, asking me to participate in letting your 'Investigative Review Board' reinvestigate my claim against your associate pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul, Father Stephen Whelan. Your review board found Whelan credible, and said that I was not. The letter was written before my court trial. This is the same review board that finds all of your priests credible, and the victims not.

    As you know, I won the court case against Whelan and the Salesian order of San Francisco in July of this year. A civil court Jury found Whelan and the Salesians responsible for molesting me as a child. That was an unbiased jury. Not a board handpicked by Bishop Levada.

    Since the court case in July, your pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul, Father Malloy, continues to bad mouth me publicly. The Salesians do also. The Salesians of San Francisco have not apologized and have not done anything remotely close to the 'Charter' concerning treatment of victims and their families after abuse has occurred.

    You have refused to pay for therapy for me or my family, which you have done for other victims of abuse in your archdiocese. It is obvious to all that you and the Salesians have treated me and my family as though we are not even human beings, and your priests have behaved not as men of God, but rather as vindictive, spiteful, angry and unremorseful cynics.

    Since your priests continue to call me a liar, and your staff continues to represent Whelan as some sort of martyr, and you do not acknowledge me as a victim of sexual abuse by one of your priests, I am accepting your offer to have your so called 'review board' interview me for your investigation. Although I already know the review board will find Whelan credible again, and myself not credible, perhaps we can go through the motions so that your staff can hear the sick, disturbing, un-Godly acts of perversion, sexual deviancy, and abuse your priest has brought upon me as a child.

    Perhaps this will end the war the archdiocese has declared on me and my innocent family, and you will finally acknowledge that me and my wife and children are at least people, and you may even treat us as people.

Piscitelli also provided me with the following information:

"When I filed suit in 2003, the Salesians and the archdiocese stated publicly that the Independant Review Board did an investigation into the allegations, and found Father Whelan credible. At that time, the head of the review board was Jim Jenkins. Almost 1.5 years later, after I had many battles with Bishop Levada, Bishop Wester, and the Salesian order, the San Francisco Weekly magazine did an article on the Salesians.

"From San Francisco Weekly, Jan 5, 2006:

    'Besides Whelan, Father Harold Danielson, another recent associate pastor at Saints Peter and Paul, and Brother Ernie Martinez, who until recently was listed as a member of the parish staff, and who lives at the provincial house, have also been accused in lawsuits of child sex abuse. They have all proclaimed their innocence.

    'Purdy says the Whelan and Danielson allegations were also investigated in 2004 by the Independent Review Board set up by Levada for the Archdiocese of San Francisco and that it corroborated the Salesians' findings that the claims against the men were 'unsubstantiated.'

    'But Jim Jenkins, a clinical psychologist and the former chairman of the review board, whose resignation from the board became effective in January 2005, disputes that claim. 'The Whelan and Danielson cases did not come before our board while I was there,' he says. 'Besides, you have to be careful with a term such as 'unsubstantiated.' It shouldn't be confused with a finding of guilt or innocence. In these [civil] cases, that will be something for the courts to decide.'

"The archdiocese claimed it did a second review. When I accused them of lying to the public, they said they found Whelan credible again. They never interviewed me for any 'investigation,' and I have never talked to their 'review board.' I called them liars again, and shortly before I went to court, Bishop Wester sent a letter to me stating he wanted me to participate in an IRB investigation. This is after they publicly claimed they did two investigations.

"After I won in a court jury trial, they released a statement saying the jury was unfair and that Whelan was innocent and a martyr. They have publicly bad-mouthed me since."

Whelan denies the accusations.

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR and WLS-TV in Chicago, and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback from readers. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial email to me... (more)


Receive future articles by Matt C. Abbott: Click here

Latest articles

April 21, 2014
A miracle attributed to John Paul II

April 19, 2014
'The Brevity of Life'

April 17, 2014
Father Francis not given Pope Francis-style treatment

April 13, 2014
Remembering Terri Schiavo: Bobby Schindler comments on Pope Francis, Bishop Robert Lynch, and working on behalf of the severely disabled

April 12, 2014
Praiseworthy papal remarks; Sister Jane Dominic, persecuted

April 9, 2014
A 'domestic terrorist' I support!; Cardinal Burke vs. Cardinal Wuerl; The 'Day of Silence' walkout

April 6, 2014
'The Love That Made Mother Teresa'

April 3, 2014
The good bishop and the bad senator; The clergy abuse scandal in dollars

March 31, 2014
Divergent reviews of 'Noah'; School chaplain derided for nun's remarks on homosexuality

March 27, 2014
Bravo, Father Joseph Klee!; The touching story of the Storey family; Prayers for Paul Likoudis

More articles