Martinez Man Wins $600,000 Settlement in Priest Abuse Case

ABC30 [California]
July 19, 2006

A jury awarded $600,000 to a Martinez man sexually abused by a priest when he was a high school student more than three decades ago.

"I've finally been vindicated," said Joey Piscitelli, 50, a former altar boy. "The church has denied and tried to disgrace me and my family for 35 years. They've devastated me and my family, and they've never apologized."

The Contra Costa County jury on Thursday found the Salesian order of priests and the Rev. Stephen Whelan equally responsible for the abuse, which occurred between 1969 and 1971 while Piscitelli was a student at Salesian High School in Richmond. Whelan was vice principal.

Church lawyer Stephen McFeely said he's considering an appeal.

"The alleged perpetrator ... denies that he engaged in any such conduct toward the plaintiff. In his 37-year career, he has never been accused of abuse by anyone other than the plaintiff. It is difficult for us to understand how the jury came to the conclusion that it did," he said.

Piscitelli, now a coordinator for the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the school did nothing to stop the sexual abuse.

The Salesian order last month reached a $700,000 settlement with another man in Alameda County Superior Court.


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