Pulpit Nonfiction

Alleged victim of sex abuse by the local clergy is writing a book

Here's one tome that isn't likely to show up on the Pope's reading list.

Clergy sex-abuse victim Joey Piscitelli, who won a $600,000 judgment last year against a former associate pastor at San Francisco's landmark Saints Peter and Paul Church and the priest's religious order, the Salesians of St. John Bosco, is writing a book about his ordeal.

Its tentative title: Destruction of a Catholic: The Biography of My Life and My Battle With Bishop Levada and the Salesian Society.

The "bishop" is, of course, former San Francisco archbishop and now Cardinal William J. Levada, who serves alongside Pope Benedict XVI in Rome as the powerful head of the Vatican office that upholds church doctrine.

In his nearly completed manuscript, Piscitelli paints Levada as bent on protecting priests accused of sexual misconduct.

Piscitelli contends that he was sexually molested at the age of 14 by one of the clergymen Levada protected, Rev. Steve Whelan. He says it happened when he was a student at Salesian High School in Richmond, where Whelan was vice principal at the time. At trial, he testified that Whelan groped him and on one occasion masturbated in front of him while a Salesian lay minister watched.

But more than a year after the jury decided in his favor, Piscitelli — a longtime church nemesis as Bay Area coordinator of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — has yet to see a dime. Whelan asserts his innocence, and the order has appealed the verdict. Whelan was removed from his position at Saints Peter and Paul after the verdict. He resides at the order's provincial house on Franklin Street.

Rev. David Purdy, who heads the order, referred questions to Singer rep, the public affairs firm the Salesians procured in the wake of scandals involving several of its priests. With regard to the book, Singer rep Jason Barnett says, "We can't comment on what we haven't seen."

Piscitelli is shopping for a publisher and says he will publish the book himself if he doesn't find one. "It's something I feel compelled to do, not just for me but for other victims out there who've been shoved around by the church."

 
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