January 23, 2005

Deal exposes dark chapter from De La Salle's history

Contra Costa Times

By Jessica Guynn and John Simerman

Bill Lopes was Mr. Popular, the homecoming queen's escort and a football star in the days before De La Salle High School became synonymous with gridiron glory. Chris Barbour loved the outdoors and country music.

The inseparable friends played spirited war games, firing air rifles filled with rock salt that left their skin red and welted. They pumped iron in Lopes' garage, barking like drill sergeants until they collapsed from the strain.

They engraved their nicknames, "Bandit One" and "Bandit Two" -- from the Burt Reynolds flick "Smokey and the Bandit" -- on their class rings.

And they stayed up late, sharing the deep secrets no one else could know. Barbour confided in Lopes that he was molested at age 11 on a Boy Scout trip, that he silently anguished over his own sexuality and God.

His soul-searching would plunge the two of them into a dark passage in the history of De La Salle and the Christian Brothers order that oversees the Concord school and other high schools and colleges around the world.

Two decades later, the Roman Catholic order is faced with costly payouts. The two friends, now 41, still struggle with the lasting scars from what Lopes calls a "toxic shame."

Posted by kshaw at January 23, 2005 09:57 AM