Salesianum Priest Sex-Abuse Suit Will Go to Trial

By Beth Miller
News Journal [Delaware]
December 6, 2006

A Superior Court judge ruled today that a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by a former principal of Salesianum School may go to trial.

Judge Calvin L. Scott Jr. ruled that former Salesianum student Eric Eden could not sue for the 1985 incident he reported to this parents because the statute of limitations had expired. But, Scott ruled, Eden can sue for the more than 930 incidents he did not report because he may have repressed the memory of them.

The suit, filed in 2004, alleges that the Rev. James W. O'Neill molested Eden, formerly Eric Mazzetti, twice a week from 1976 to 1985.

According to the lawsuit, Eden told his parents of the abuse in 1985 and they confronted the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the religious order that runs the private Catholic school.

Thomas S. Neuberger, Eden's attorney, said the order made an agreement with Eden's parents that O'Neill would be permanently removed from youth-related ministry, sent to an undisclosed location and have no further contact with the Mazzettis. In exchange, they would not report the allegations.

Instead, O'Neill was reassigned to Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, Pa., and later to the pastorate of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Greensboro, N.C.

A spokesman for the order told The News Journal in 2004 that no agreement was made to sequester O'Neill.

The judge refused to dismiss the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington from the suit. He did, however, dismiss Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli, who was not bishop at the time of the abuse.

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