"Brother Vic" Convicted of Abuse at Local School
By John M. Tyson, Jr.
Mobile County District Attorney [Alabama]
Nicholas "Brother Vic" Bendillo, a former McGill-Toolen High School counselor who was found guilty of sex abuse and enticement in a February trial, was sentenced to prison in April.
Bendillo was sentenced to five years in prison, the maximum sentence, for enticing a child for immoral purposes, and to one year, also the maximum, for sexual abuse, second degree.
In the wake of allegations of abuse rocking the Catholic Church, several men who had attended McGill-Toolen came forward with claims of sexual abuse, said Steven Giardini, assistant district attorney who specializes in crimes against children. Authorities took note quickly because "the victims were telling uncannily similar stories," Giardini said.
"This conviction is an important victory for all the youngsters and families hurt by this wolf masquerading in religious clothing," said Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. of Bendillo. "As a counselor, Bendillo had close association with boys who were having problems, often boys from homes with no father present. He took advantage of their problems to gratify his own perverted desires."
Giardini said the victims all described activities that began with counseling and tutoring, but eventually progressed to a discussion of their sexual behavior and culminating in fondling. Because Bendillo couched the activities in terms of medicine and health, Giardini said, and because he raised questions about the boys' sexual adequacy, they were reluctant to accuse the man until they were older and more confident. When boys said they preferred some other treatment, Bendillo would tell them that such a request meant that other people would find out about their inadequacy.
The young men who came forward with accusations of abuse were "good students and athletes and devout in their faith," Giardini said. But as adults they could look back and see that "they had been duped by someone they trusted."
"I suspect that there may be scores, even hundreds of victims," said Giardini, and that others continue to keep quiet because they are still embarrassed or because they believe that he's already been held accountable for his crimes.
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