January 05, 2006

House of the Accused

San Francisco Weekly

By Ron Russell

Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2006

The Salesians of St. John Bosco is a Roman Catholic order of priests and lay brothers that prides itself on being "an international organization of men dedicated full time to the service of young people." Secured behind heavy iron gates, the center of its activities for the western United States is a three-story red brick "provincial house" at 1100 Franklin St., on the same hill as the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption and around the corner from the offices of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

A block in the other direction is Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, with its nearly 1,200 high school students.

For decades, the Salesians have helped run parishes and schools at the city's landmark Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach, Corpus Christi Church in the Outer Mission, and Salesian High School in the East Bay.

But another distinction of the order's presence on Franklin Street is perhaps less well known: Five of the eight Salesians listed in a recent personnel directory as holding positions of responsibility at the provincial house are also accused child molesters. One of them, Father Bernard Dabbene, who once held a prominent post as former San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada's chief liaison to parishes in the archdiocese, is a convicted sex offender who struck a plea bargain with prosecutors to avoid going to jail.

Posted by kshaw at January 5, 2006 05:37 PM