|Salesian Attorneys Toasted Their Victory before the Verdict in a Bar near the Courthouse, but Their Million Dollar Defense Did Not Persuade the Jury
By Kay Ebeling
City of Angels
March 25, 2008
At my trial they put Brother Sal Valenti on the stand to testify against me. My attorney Richard Simmons says, have you ever been arrested and Valenti says yes. Simmons says what for. Child molestation, says Brother Sal. They lost the case.
In 2002 the one-year window in the statute of limitations resulted in 170 cases against the San Francisco Archdiocese, all of which settled in 2006 except those with the Salesians Religious Order. Their website claims the Salesians stand in solidarity with the victims of sexual abuse. Joey Piscitelli talks about his trial and battles with the Salesians up north in this interview (continued from March 18 post) in Joeys own words.
Brother Sal Valenti was watching and masturbating while Father Steve Whelan jerked off in front of me. I was 13 years old and they made me watch. Fr. Steve invited me to play pool at the Boys Club. I was an 80 pound kid, I turn around and theres Father Steve masturbating on a bench. I put the cue stick down and he said, no dont leave. So I had to stand there, I'm sweating, the hair on my neck is standing up.
I thought, God is jerking off in front of me and making me watch. Because at that time the priest was like God to me. Then Brother Sal walked in I thought oh my god finally, someone will stop this, and Brother Sal he stood there and watched. Hes a voyeur. Hes standing in the doorway with his arms crossed leaning against the wall drooling, watching. I found out later Valenti used to take nude pictures of boys
What I didn't know was Brother Sal and Father Steve had grown up together in the North Beach area of San Francisco and went to Salesian seminary together in the 40s and 50s, which then became the Salesian high school in Richmond. They're an absolute nest of pedophiles. I told Fr. Steve one time Im going to tell on you. He looked at me and laughed and said, Do you think anybody is going to believe you over a priest.
(Fr. Bernard) Dabbenne. the principal told me the exact same words when I went to him. Whos going to believe you over a priest? It was a ring, its incredible there were so many pedophiles all sleeping in the Salesian residence, all covering for each other and lying.
Then when I went to court I could only mention Whelan, the Salesians got mention of all the other perpetrators thrown out before trial. Also the Salesians petitioned to dismiss my case claiming if one priest watches another priest masturbating in front of a child, that is not sexually abusive. Do you see what that means? The Salesians dont think its abuse if a man masturbates in front of a child. So if a Salesian brother is masturbating in front of a child today, the Salesians dont think that's sexual abuse.
In my court case I was able to say they had prior notice because Brother Sal watched and then had the duty to report. Whelan got to me 25 times after that. He did it to me on the stairway, in the office, the attic all over the school.
In July 2003 the Salesians offered me zero. Since then court costs alone for the Salesians are more than 2 million dollars. Theyd rather spend millions fighting plaintiffs than give them a settlement. They are appealing the July 2006 settlement.
Before and during my trial the Salesians released lies to the press and lied often to the press on camera.
Titian Miani was at my high school in Richmond when we had all those pedophiles here in the 1960s. Then the Salesians sent the same guys down to LA. They had complaints on all of them from San Francisco before sending them to LA.
Fr. Larry Lorenzoni and . Bernard Dabbenne both ended up getting promoted in San Francisco. After Fr. Richard Presenti admitted being a pedophile, he became principal of Don Bosco High School in Bellflower. Richard Gross complained against Presenti in 1968, and Presenti admitted the abuse. After that they made Presenti Administrator of Salesians, then principal in Bellflower.
Joey Piscitelli continues:
Right before my trial the Salesians hired a PR man, Sam Singer, to bad mouth me during and before my trial to poison the jury pool. Again these people claim they dont have any money.
Singer is the same PR man who today represents the San Francisco Zoo re the tiger attack last Christmas. Now hes bad mouthing the tiger victims in the press. Hes a very expensive spokesperson
During my trial Singer released a statement that I wasnt credible and I was thinking, whos he?
My trial lasted two weeks, the Salesian Provincial Father Purdy and Fr. Steve Whelan the perp who molested me got on the stand and called me a liar.
In closing arguments, the Salesians compared me to the guy on Oprah who lied about his book. They produced a video that showed a book cover My Story of Abuse by Joey Piscitelli, and then flashed across the screen Fiction, Fiction, blinking.
Our closing arguments were minimal. All we did was show Father Whelan in court testifying, answering one question Are You the Same Man as you were when you were molesting Joey. And he said no, I'm not.
The only witnesses we put on were my therapist, my wife, my brothers and sisters. We presented a personal case with just my family and my therapist.
The Salesians claimed my therapist was lying.
There were dozens of attorneys, from at least three law firms defending the Salesians.
Before the verdict, I went to have a sandwich, I saw the dozen or so Salesians attorneys drinking and partying, high-fiving each other that they won before the trial was over.
My wife was there for the verdict. I couldn't be there, I -- the trauma -- She told me in court the Salesian attorneys were all smiling and sure they were going to win.
Their attorneys said outside court in front of several people, We're not going to give you one dime, wed rather spend the money fighting.
Joey Piscitelli continues:
With the Salesians it is not about money, its about hate and vindictiveness. Because in my case, rather than give me even a dime or ten dollars they spent millions fighting me.
Their goal with this million dollar defense is to discourage any more victims
You have to remember that Cardinal William Levada lived right across the street from the Salesian Mansion. The largest cathedral in San Francisco St. Peter and Paul is all run by Salesian priests who work for Levada.
I don't know if the Salesians are going to ask for another extension on taking my verdict to the Supreme Court. I don't know what they're going to do next. I just know their next move, whatever it is, will be spiteful hateful and vindictive.
The thing about the Salesians is they do not settle. Richard Gross filed suit when I filed, in 2003.
Salesians fought him knowing he was molested but they said, you dont have proof that Presenti was a molester before he molested you.
I had 11 documents from my school.
The day before trial they argued, if Piscitelli is allowed to introduce this evidence, it will prejudice the jury against the Salesians. The jury pool will hate the Salesians.
The judge who went to a Salesian school himself, agreed and wouldn't allow the evidence.
The technicality they used was that Brother Sal watching Fr. Whelan masturbate in front of me doesn't constitute prior knowledge even though Whelan molested me 25 more times after that.
The judge ruled that Brother Sal didn't have a duty to report.
ME: Its almost like the Salesians want to continue to let pedophiles have access to children.
JOEY: Its true, their income is from schools, boys clubs, and camps for low-income children.
Onward. . .
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