Protest at Marin Church about Priest's Return

November 28, 2006

Marin CO. -- An organization of victims sexually abused by priests is protesting the return of a priest to a Marin County church Tuesday afternoon.

SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is handing out leaflets to parents whose children attend the St. Anselm School in Ross. SNAP spokesman Joey Piscitelli said the protest is over the return of Rev. John Schwartz to the Saint Anselm parish for the Christmas season.

Schwartz took a leave of absence in October 2005 while the Archdiocese of San Francisco investigated the priest's alleged sexual misconduct in Oregon.

The diocese informed parish members this week that its investigation concluded the allegations "were not sustainable" and Schwartz would return to the Ross church until he takes up a new assignment at the end of the year.

Piscitelli and other SNAP members claim the diocese hand-picked a panel for the investigation and its conclusion that Schwartz is credible was to be expected.

"Why put children at risk?" Piscitelli asked by phone from the protest at the elementary school.

Schwartz was named in a $4 million civil suit in Oregon as the abuser of a student at a Jesuit school in Beaverton, Ore. in 1986 and 1987.

The suit was settled for about $100,000 Piscitelli said.

The Diocese of San Francisco reported two of its investigators tried to make contact with potential witnesses in three states and the plaintiff in the Oregon civil suit chose not to participate in the investigation.

The diocese also reported its independent review board determined the allegations were not sustainable.

Piscitelli said "none of the victims of abuse by priests want to talk to a hand-picked panel and tell it the priest is not credible.

"It's redundant," Piscitelli said.

Piscitelli was awarded $600,000 in August in a civil suit alleging sexual molestation in Contra Costa County against San Francisco priest Steven Whelan.

"The same review board found me not credible. I went to court and they found me credible," Piscitelli said.

The San Francisco Diocese reported its review board included a retired judge, a retired policewoman, a religious sister who is practicing law, a clinical psychologist, a pediatrician and a pastor. No previous allegations regarding sexual abuse had ever been made against Rev. Schwartz, the diocese said.


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