Jesuit Prep Sued Again over Sex Abuse, This Time Involving a Priest and Coach
By Jennifer Emily
October 25, 2019
UPDATE: This story was updated at 12:10 p.m. with additional comments from a spokeswoman for the Jesuits of the U.S. Central and Southern Province.
A fourth former student at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas has filed a lawsuit alleging he was abused by priests when he was a student there.
The plaintiff, a Dallas lawyer in his 50s, filed the lawsuit this month against the school and the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, among others, saying he was sexually abused in the early 1980s by two Jesuit Prep priests.
The priests named in the suit are the Rev. Peter Callery, a teacher and wrestling coach, and the late Rev. Patrick Koch, a former president of the school.
The lawsuit, filed under the pseudonym Richard Roe, says he was molested by Koch during a confession and by Callery in a hotel room when the school wrestling team traveled to a match.
The man, who asked not to be identified, told The Dallas Morning News in an interview that he felt compelled to step forward when other former Jesuit Prep students filed lawsuits this year alleging sexual abuse by priests there.
“With everything that had gone on in the church, I really started to feel my silence was making me complicit in the cover-up of sex abuse,” he said. “There has never been an honest resolution that solved the problem.”
|Mike Pedevilla, who also says the Rev. Patrick Koch sexually abused him while he was a student at Jesuit Dallas, points to a picture of Koch in a 1980s yearbook.(Ryan Michalesko / Staff Photographer)|
Koch died in 2006 at age 78. Callery lives in Convent, La., at Manresa House of Retreats, on the banks of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. He’s listed as an associate director of Manresa on the retreat’s website.
Callery did not return phone or email messages seeking comment about the allegation. The director of Manresa could not be reached for comment.
Therese Meyerhoff, a spokeswoman for the Jesuits of the U.S. Central and Southern Province, declined to comment about the specific allegations.
“I want to be clear that the province has never before received an allegation against Fr. Peter Callery,” she said in an email. “However, in accordance with province policies, Fr. Callery will not engage in public ministry until this matter is resolved.”
A Jesuit Prep spokesman also declined to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit. The Catholic Diocese of Dallas said it was reviewing the suit.
The lawsuit says Callery “still has access to young boys” through his work at a Jesuit retreat in Louisiana. Manresa’s website, however, says retreat activities “are conducted for men only” and attendees must be 18. Meyerhoff said the retreat is offered to adults.
But the website for Jesuit High School in New Orleans says sophomores attend Manresa for a silent retreat. The retreat’s Fall 2018 newsletter mentioned the school and another, St. Charles High School, attended a day of prayer there.
Meyerhoff said Monday that her prior comment about Manresa serving only adults was based on the retreat center’s website." But as I now understand, that information is intended for individuals interested in a retreat," Meyerhoff said. “Jesuit High School does send student groups for retreats. These groups are always accompanied by chaperones.”
Koch was named in January as "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children by both the Dallas and Corpus Christi dioceses. He never faced criminal charges in the sex scandal and is not included in a similar list released by the Jesuits in December. Callery didn’t appear on either list.
Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns has said previously that a priest's inclusion on the list means "that we would believe it is true that an abuse has taken place."
|Bishop Edward J. Burns speaks after being introduced as the new bishop of Dallas during a press conference at the Catholic Diocese of Dallas in Dallas Tuesday December 13, 2016. (Andy Jacobsohn / Staff Photographer)|
In the latest lawsuit filed against Jesuit Prep, the victim says the abuse contributed to his struggles with severe depression, alcoholism, shame and self-doubt, as well as a failed marriage. The man said he sought treatment for his alcoholism and is in recovery.
He joined a lawsuit filed by another former Jesuit Prep student, Mike Pedevilla, who told The News he was also molested by Koch.
A third student said in a lawsuit filed last month that Koch sexually assaulted him in a windowless closet when he was given in-school suspension for leaving campus without permission.
Another lawsuit accused former Jesuit priest Donald Dickerson of sexually abusing a student in the late 1970s. Dickerson was removed from the Jesuit order in 1986 and died in 2018. Dickerson was named on a credibly accused list.
Callery taught middle school and high school boys for 36 years in Houston, New Orleans, Tampa and Dallas, the lawsuit says. He coached sports for 27 years.
The plaintiff in the most recent lawsuit was small for a high school freshman, like Pedevilla, when he attended Jesuit, the lawsuit says. But he was also athletic, so he joined the school wrestling team, coached by Callery.
At times, the man said, Callery was extremely complimentary. But the priest would also get angry and yell and scream at him until his face was red, the man said.
“After one tournament, he was so irate at me after I lost a match,” the man said, “he pulled me into a side room and just went after me. I was just crying and crying and crying, and then he would build me up.”
The man’s attorneys, Charla Aldous and Brent Walker, say they believe Callery was grooming their client for sexual abuse so he would be dependent on the priest and need his approval.
When the boy was 15, he qualified for a wrestling championship in El Paso, the lawsuit says, Callery told him they would share a hotel room. While at the hotel, he and a friend played video games in the lounge of the bar, something the lawsuit says that Callery would later hold over his head because it was against school policy to go into a bar.
The teen lost his matches and didn’t advance in the tournament.
“He was disappointed,” the lawsuit says. “But the disappointment from losing was nothing compared to the horror of what Callery did.”
That night, while Callery was in the bathroom, the boy undressed down to his underwear and T-shirt, the lawsuit says. The boy got in bed and fell asleep.
“At some point after being asleep, Richard Roe awoke to find that Callery was on top of him. Callery had pulled back the covers to expose Richard Roe, and Callery ... held Richard facedown on the bed,” the lawsuit says. “Richard struggled and tried to escape, but Callery was bigger and Richard was unable to get away. Callery held Richard Roe down, grinding Richard’s backside until Callery satisfied himself and then stopped. Callery left Richard in his bed.”
Before the team returned to Dallas, the lawsuit says, Callery asked if the boy had gone into the bar to play video games. He admitted that he had. Callery told him that he would be expelled when they got back to Dallas.
Callery later convinced him that if he did not speak out about what happened in the hotel room, the priest would consider not telling the school that the boy had played video games in the lounge.
He never told anyone the details of what happened, the lawsuit says. Not even his parents.
Callery left Jesuit before the teen graduated. But the man said he lived in fear that the priest would call the school and tell them he had broken school policy by going into a bar.
Callery “let me know he had complete control over my future,” the man said. “I became grateful to him, as time went by, that I hadn’t been expelled.”
As an adult, the man said, he sees what happened differently.
“Looking back now, I believe he took great care in making those arrangements,” he said about sharing the hotel room with Callery.
The lawsuit also alleges Koch sexually abused him during the sacrament of confession, the lawsuit says. This incident with Koch happened during his senior year, not long before graduation, he said.
“Following the talk, when Richard stood up, Koch reached out, placed his hands on Richard’s buttocks, and pulled Richard into him,” the lawsuit says. “Koch buried his face in Richard’s genital region and would not let go. Richard had to pull Koch’s hands off of him and squirm away to get away from Koch’s unconsented-to physical contact.”
‘I love Jesuit’
Despite his allegations of abuse, the man said he still cares deeply for the school and the church.
“I love Jesuit,” he said. “I do have fond memories of my time there, of my classmates.”
He still goes to Mass on Sundays.
“I have made a distinction between the Catholic Church — which is its people and the sacraments — and the institutions and the hierarchy of the church,” he said.
“The church is the people I sit next to on Sunday. They are innocent. They have done nothing wrong. In order to maintain the integrity of the church, something has to be done.”