O'Shea's Alleged Victims Describe Pressures
Former Altar Boys Testify Ex-Priest Used Alcohol to Get Sex

By Jim Herron Zamora
San Francisco Chronicle
June 16, 2000

Several former altar boys testified that they felt confused and unable to resist the sexual advances - and subtle pressures - of a San Francisco priest, who has since been defrocked and charged with 224 counts of child molestation.

The alleged victims, now adults, said in testimony to the San Francisco grand jury in April that they were confused adolescents who succumbed to pressures and temptations of their priest, Patrick O'Shea, an authority figure who - while revered by their parents - secretly got the boys drunk and had sex with them during weekend water skiing trips more than 20 years ago.

"We were really stuck," said a 41-year-old man, in his grand jury testimony about a series of alleged sexual encounters with O'Shea, a former monsignor who was indicted in April on the molestation charges. "It was surreal. . . . You didn't want to be there but you couldn't help (it) - it's hard to describe."

His statements and similar comments from eight other men are included in a newly unsealed transcript of testimony to the grand jury that resulted in O'Shea's indictment.

The 67-year-old former pastor at Holy Name of Jesus Church in the Sunset District and later St. Cecilia's Church in the Parkside District has been charged with molesting nine boys between ages 10 and 18. All allegedly came in contact with O'Shea while serving as altar boys or participating in youth activities at Roman Catholic churches where the priest served.

O'Shea was being held in San Francisco jail on $5 million bail. His attorney has long maintained that O'Shea is not guilty.

In many cases, O'Shea knew the families of his alleged victims and was able to exert pressure on the boys to join the priest for weekend trips, they testified, according to court records of the testimony. Some boys talked among themselves about ways to avoid going on the trips, according to testimony.

"If we didn't accept the offer, it wasn't beneath Father O'Shea to call our parents and . . . confirm our story," one man testified. "And if we lied, you know, he would say: 'You lied to me.' "

The same man noted that O'Shea was an integral member of the community. The priest performed the wedding ceremonies for his parents and his sister.

The alleged victims' testimonies provide very similar tales of being molested, fondled and groped by O'Shea during summer outings to Lake Berryessa, Palm Springs, Squaw Valley and several San Francisco locations from 1964 to 1980, the documents show.

O'Shea's alleged victims testified about how the priest would take boys, ranging in age from 11 to their mid-teens, on trips and provide them with beer or cocktails. One testified the priest would ply them with "boilermakers, Harvey Wallbangers, screwdrivers whatever - whatever we wanted."

The boys would play drinking games - including pass-out - expedited by the priest. They would have to "say tongue twisters and if you miss them you would have to consume more," testified one man, describing summer activities when he was 11 and 12. "We were required to finish our drink" - even if the boys wanted to stop, he said.

Sometimes the priest would bring just one boy with him on trips, but usually he'd take two to four to his trailer at Lake Berryessa, according to the grand jury testimony. The men testified that they knew that one of them would end up with O'Shea.

"The defendant never slept alone," one man testified.

That man told of "being led down that hallway reluctantly" to O'Shea's room. He said that he tried to stay on the edge of the bed, but the priest "reached over and grabbed me."

Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Jerry Coleman, the same man admitted "we liked to water ski, we liked to drive (O'Shea's) car (and) go out and drink with our friends."

But he also testified that he felt pressure that made him unable to turn down the friendly priest.

That man, who lived with his grandmother at the time, testified that after O'Shea sexually molested him during a water skiing trip to

Lake Berryessa when he was 11, he turned down a subsequent invitation. But the priest called his grandmother, who told the boy to accept.

He testified that he told his grandmother that O'Shea "touches me."

But she misunderstood. "She says 'He's just trying to be a father figure . . . your friend.' She pooh-poohed it really," the man testified.

He also testified that after having sex with the priest one night he remembered really "being just ashamed."

O'Shea was ordained in 1958 and served in several churches in San Francisco. O'Shea eventually rose to become pastor at Holy Name of Jesus Church in the Sunset District and then St. Cecilia's Church in the Parkside District.

O'Shea was defrocked in 1995 following the disclosure of the accusations that he'd molested the boys.

O'Shea was originally charged in 1995 and again in 1998, but the case couldn't proceed until a California Supreme Court ruling last year allowed the prosecution of accused child molesters years after the alleged crimes. That ruling is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to his sexual charges, O'Shea also is being sued by the San Francisco Archdiocese for allegedly embezzling $250,000 from church funds. He also faces grand theft charges leveled by the district attorney's office. Those cases are pending.


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