Bellarmine College Preparatory school in San Jose is in the news today for something that allegedly happened in the 1960s.
A student who graduated from Bellarmine in 1968 says he was sexually abused by a Jesuit Brother during his high school years. A brother is a full member of the religious community, but they are not ordained.
Bellarmine was a boarding school in the 60s and the Jesuit Brother being accused of the abuse supervised the students who lived on campus.
The former student told the California Province of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit group that oversees Bellarmine, that he is talking about what happened in hopes it would help other possible victims to come forward.
"They [the Jesuits] support my desire to send this letter as an expression of my care and concern for my classmates who might have had (during that time) similar painful experiences," the victim wrote in a letter to the California Province of the Society of Jesus.
As for the Jesuit Brother in question, the society said he "was removed from ministry with minors after allegations surfaced from another former student. He now exercises no public ministry and lives under close supervision at the Jesuit infirmary. His restrictions are reviewed annually by a lay advisory board that includes medical professionals, law enforcement and business leaders from the local civic community."
NBC Bay Area obtained a letter written by Bellarmine president Paul Sheridan where he informs alumni of the claim and asks for prayers for the victim.
We've deleted the name of the victim and the priest (who has not been charged).
Dear Faculty and Staff,
As President of Bellarmine College Preparatory, with the responsibility of transparency initiated by my predecessors, I wish to inform you of a credible accusation by alumnus --- ------- '68 that, during a time in which he was a student at Bellarmine, he was sexually abused by Brother ------- -. ----------, a Jesuit who lived on campus from 1964 - 1974 and whose duties included supervising the school's infirmary for a period in which Bellarmine provided a boarding facility. I share this information with the permission and knowledge of (the victim), as well as that of the California Province of the Society of Jesus and Provincial Mike Weiler, S.J., with whom (the victim) has been discoursing.
The Provincial and other California Province leadership have met with (the victim), providing appropriate attention, ministry and prayer. I, too, have met with (the victim) to express that the Bellarmine community is saddened to learn of this, to apologize on behalf of the school, and to assure him of our support. It is clear from our conversation that (the victim)'s objective in bringing forth this information is to act as a catalyst for healing for any of his classmates and other Bellarmine alumni who may have been victimized.
There is nothing that we take more seriously than the protection of our students. Over time, policies and procedures have been put in place to help provide a safe environment for all. We regret any incidents of the past that have, in any way, negatively impacted the physical, emotional or spiritual makeup of our students and alumni.
Bellarmine College Preparatory has been an outstanding Jesuit secondary education institution since 1851. It has been blessed with a caring, compassionate and professional faculty and staff throughout its history, all gathered to be stewards of the important mission of providing a comprehensive education which results in a lifelong search for truth. It is in this spirit of truth-seeking that I invite anyone who has knowledge of such incomprehensible incidents of the past to please contact Advocacy Coordinator Mary Pat Panighetti at 408.893.8398 directly.
Let us be about prayer, asking God to especially bless (the victim) and his family during these days and all victims of violence and sexual abuse throughout our world. Let us also be about modeling well for our youth in all we do in our daily activities.
May God bless each one of you.
Paul G. Sheridan, S.J.