clergy abuse

Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse at San Jose Bellarmine College Preparatory

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A San Jose man claims he was sexually assaulted as a teenager by Jesuit Brother William Farrington while attending Bellarmine College Preparatory in the 1960s.

The alleged victim is now pursuing a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of San Jose and Bellarmine. He is able to pursue legal action decades later because of a new California law.

"The law says no matter how long ago the abuse happened you can come forward today with civil action and expose the offender, expose the institution that concealed the abuse and hold them accountable," Attorney Jeff Anderson said.

California's Child Victim's Act also allows victims to file lawsuits anonymously and if it is proven an organization tried to cover up suspected abuse, the victim is entitled to triple the damages.

Joelle Casteix is a survivor of childhood abuse and fought to get the new law on the books. She said it is important institutions know they can no longer hide abuse.

"I was sexually assaulted in a Southern California Catholic High School and they tried to cover it up instead of protecting me," Casteix said.

This is not the first accusation against Farrington, who was removed from the ministry in 2002 after he was accused of sexual abuse by at least six people, including two at Bellarmine.

Farrington is now 78 years old and living at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos. He is under a so-called safety plan requiring him to have supervised access to visitors and limitations on travel.

NBC Bay Area visited Sacred Heart Jesuit Center on Wednesday, but was unable to contact Farrington for comment.

The Jesuit West Province provided the following statement to NBC Bay Area:

"On December 7th, 2018 Jesuits West Province released its list of Jesuits with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Brother William Farrington was named on that list. We did so because we hope this act of accountability will help victims and their families in the healing process."

Anderson said while the civil lawsuit is the first filed under the new law, he represents at least 50 other victims of childhood abuse in the Bay Area who plan to file lawsuits to help share their truth, and perhaps prevent others from being abused.

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