Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Assault

San Francisco Chronicle
December 1, 2000

A priest with the San Francisco Roman Catholic Archdiocese facing sexual assault charges was allowed free without bail yesterday after he entered not guilty pleas to charges stemming from an encounter with a 17-year-old boy, authorities said.

The Rev. Bernard J. Dabbene formally denied felony charges of assault with intent to commit oral copulation and false imprisonment and misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and annoying or molesting a child.

Dabbene, a priest for 34 years, was ordered to return to court on Dec. 15, so a date for a preliminary hearing may be set, said Fred Gardner, spokesman for the district attorney's office.

Dabbene, 63, was spotted on Nov. 11 with a youth in a parked car at 25th and Illinois streets.

The youth said that he had accepted a ride from Dabbene after being chased by gang members in the Mission District and that the priest had then held him against his will and rubbed his genitals. Dabbene told police he was there with the youth to discuss job opportunities.

Over the prosecutor's objection, the $10,500 bail was posted by Dabbene's order, the Salesians of Don Bosco. In the wake of the incident, Dabbene was placed on leave from his post as the archdiocese's liaison to 89 parishes in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties.


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