April 06, 2005

Brothers say priest molested them both

San Francisco Chronicle

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Two brothers testified Tuesday that a former Antioch priest tickled and molested them when they were young altar boys two decades ago, scarring them psychologically and leading to sexual confusion and substance abuse.

One of the brothers said that several years after the abuse, when he was a young man, he had an unsettling realization that his first sexual encounters in the late 1970s to early 1980s had been with "a 300-pound priest."

Tom and Bob Thatcher, speaking at a civil trial in their lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, told a jury at the Hayward Hall of Justice that they were terrified when the Rev. Robert Ponciroli -- whom they described as a large, angry man -- took them, one by one, into a rectory bedroom.

Ponciroli, then pastor of St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Antioch, had told the boys that he was going to punish them because they didn't properly pull weeds on the property, they said. The boys, who were about 9 and 10 years old at the time, said they felt confused because they didn't believe they had done anything wrong.

Posted by kshaw at April 6, 2005 08:55 AM