by Devin Fehely

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Among a list of 15 priests from the San Jose Diocese with credible accusations of sexual abuse, three of them were convicted of abuse and later allowed to return to the clergy. The diocese now says it was wrong to allow those priests to continue working.

Former Catholic priest Robert Gray pleaded no contest in 1993 to sexually abusing a teenage boy while assigned to St. Justin Church In Santa Clara.

Gray went to jail and to therapy. He was eventually welcomed back into the church where he another seven years before finally being forced out by a zero tolerance policy adopted in the wake of the church’s sex abuse scandal in 2002.

“Just because a priest wears the roman collar and he’s a priest, if he commits a crime that doesn’t excuse it,” said St. Justin parishioner Arlette Weaver. “There’s no justification for that. Wrong is wrong.”

The cases of Gray and two other priests, Hernan Toro and Lionel Noia, point to a troubling trend. All three men were convicted of abuse – Toro even had to register as a sex offender. But all three were eventually allowed back into the church – as parish priests or in other jobs.

Survivors says the church’s treatment of the three men fits a sad but familiar pattern.

“As a survivor, I think it’s disgusting,” said abuse survivor Joey Piscitelli. “It overwhelms you with how bad it was for all of the victims and all of the kids who could have been saved but weren’t.”

A spokesperson for the diocese says all three cases pre-date the current zero-tolerance policy for U.S. priests accused of abuse.

In a prepared statement, the diocese wrote, “We now know, based on the current psychological best practices, that returning these men to ministry was a misguided attempt at rehabilitation … and the diocese has abolished the practice as part of the zero tolerance established by the Dallas charter.”

Comments (3)
  1. Loyolaalum Snap says:

    Jesuit Center in Los Gatos was and may still be the warehouse center for the Jesuits accused of sex offenses from a number of Western states. There needs to be an update on this. Such Jesuits need to be sent to a more remote location.
    The credibly accused Jesuit Fr. Jerold Lindner ($3 million in sex offense settlements) may still have free access to a car at Los Gatos and may still not need to tell anyone where he is going.

  2. Judy Block-Jones says:

    As long as church officials can keep their crimes and cover ups secret, nothing will change and kids are still not safe within this system. The wrongdoers need to be exposed and held accountable.
    There needs to be a Grand Jury investigation done in every state, so that the full truth can be exposed.

    Judy Jones, SNAP “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” 636-433-2511, SNAPjudy@gmail.com

  3. Loyolaalum Snap says:

    After the October 17, 1989 magnitude 6.9 World Series earthquake a Jesuit menial worker from the Los Gatos Jesuit Center walked to downtown Los Gatos to look at the damages. He then met a shop owner who was cleaning up.

    The friendship with the shop owner eventually led to the discovery that Jesuit clerics Br. Charles Leonard Connor, Fr. Edward T. Burke and others had allegedly sexually abused Jesuit menial workers at Los Gatos for as long as 20-years. The Jesuit Order paid $7 million to keep the revelations out of court. The good news was that the menial workers were able to move away from the Jesuit Center – which may have never happened except for the World Series earthquake.

    Meanwhile the question for today is whether the Jesuit Order still warehouses its sex offender suspects from a number of Western States within a 10-minute walk from downtown Los Gatos which is near San Jose, California.

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