Sex Abuse Case Could Cost Priest His Marin Post

By Nancy Isles Nation
Marin Independent Journal [San Francisco CA]
December 1, 2005

The Archdiocese of San Francisco is contemplating whether to let a Marin priest at the center of a settled sex abuse case keep his job.

A $4 million lawsuit filed Oct. 6 under the initials of J.T. to provide anonymity for the plaintiff claims that the Rev. John Schwartz sexually abused him in 1986 and 1987 when he was a student at the Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Ore.

Schwartz is on leave from his assignment at St. Anselm's Church on Shady Lane in Ross. St. Anselm's School, an affiliated elementary school, is around the corner on Belle Avenue in San Anselmo.

The settlement with Jesuit High School in Portland and the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit organization, awards $95,000 to the plaintiff. Details of the agreement are not publicly available.

Maurice Healy, director of communications for the Archdiocese of San Francisco said Schwartz denies the allegations. Schwartz was on vacation when news of the lawsuit became public in October, and went on retreat afterward. He has since taken voluntary leave.

Healy said an independent review board of the Archdiocese will determine if there are credible allegations against Schwartz and will take appropriate actions, if so.

"We need to determine what the facts are," Healy said. "It's kind of in limbo."

If the case had been heard openly in court, the church would have had better information to work with, Healy said. He noted that neither the Jesuit High School nor the Oregon Province admitted wrong-doing in the case.

An attorney for the Jesuits has said that the order agreed to a settlement to avoid the expense of a legal case and to put its energy into educating its students.

Joey Piscitelli, Bay Area outreach coordinator for Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests said he did not think the settlement was adequate compensation for the victim.

"It was a quiet settlement," Piscitelli said. "We have had talks with the Archdiocese and the silence thing is going on."

He said it is important for victims to come forward so that others aren't afraid, and so abuse by priests does not continue.


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