SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A South Bay man is coming forward with allegations of abuse at a Catholic high school. But the alleged crime happened more than 60 years ago. The victim’s attorney says his client is breaking his silence now, because he doesn’t want to take this secret to his grave. And that in coming forward, maybe other potential victims from the same time period will speak up.
“A lot of people who are older, particularly, 10 years ago wouldn’t have said anything, now are coming forward,” said Dr. Joseph George, a Sacramento-based attorney representing the plaintiff.
Standing on the sidewalk In front of Saint Francis High School, were the alleged crime occurred 62-years ago, George referred to his client as “John Doe” and said sexual abuse took place back in the 1957. Brother Donald Eagleson was the band director at Saint Francis at that time. Reading from the victim’s personal statement, attorney Joseph George accused Eagleson of committing a crime.
“One day brother Donald (Eagleson) told me to stay after so that he could give me some extra help. It was then that he abused me. I never went to band practice again,” said George, reading directly from the printed statement.
Eagleson died in 2004. But in April of this year, his name was added to a list released by the San Jose Bishop, naming priests who are credibly accused of sexually abusing children. The original list, from Oct. 2018, omitted Eagleson because he wasn’t a priest at the time of the alleged crime. That list has since been expanded to include accused non-priests..
“It’s really, really, hard to come forward when your predator is a catholic cleric. Catholics are raised to revere these men as god’s representatives on earth,” said David Clohessy, a representative of SNAP – the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The victim and his representatives are asking Saint Francis administrators to notify the school community of the new revelation. But Acting President Father Anthony Mancuso says he’s already taken such action.
“There was a communique that went out to every constituent of our community – alumni, our present parents, donors, everyone…We’re being absolutely transparent because we want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” said Saint Francis High School Acting President Anthony Mancuso.
Through his attorney, the victim writes he’s hopeful coming out of the shadows will lead to healing for others.
“I hope that my telling of this will help someone else come forward with what happened to them long ago, or recently,” said George.
The victim’s attorney, and representatives from Saint Francis High School agreed to have direct dialog about the claim, even though the allegations predate everyone now associated with the school. The victim has moved from the Bay Area, but still lives in Northern California.