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2 Say Lives Damaged By Alleged Abuse

EX-JESUIT FACES CHARGES STEMMING FROM 1960S

Apr 25, 2003 | San Jose Mercury News A 49-year-old man in Hollister can't sleep without a fortress of pillows surrounding him for safety because he is haunted by the sexual abuse he says he suffered at the hands of a former Jesuit brother. Another man says he spent years using alcohol and drugs to drown out memories that leave him angry to this day.

Both men said they have struggled for decades with the damage caused by Wellington Joseph Stanislaus, a former Jesuit brother who was arraigned Thursday in Santa Clara County Superior Court on charges of molesting another youth in a Los Gatos group home more than 30 years ago.

Stanislaus, 58, denied wrongdoing when a district attorney's investigator confronted him last week, according to court records. On Thursday, dressed in brown jail coveralls, signifying that he is in protective custody, Stanislaus said little during the brief court hearing. Judge Rodney J. Stafford set bail at $100,000 and scheduled a follow-up hearing for Tuesday, when Stanislaus will be asked to formally enter his plea.

Authorities arrested Stanislaus this week on molestation charges that stem from the late 1960s, when the former Jesuit served as a volunteer chaplain at the Santa Clara County juvenile hall and operated a group home for troubled youths in Los Gatos.

Authorities have only charged Stanislaus with felony counts of sodomy and oral copulation that involved one man, because of the statute of limitations. He now lives in Missouri and could not be reached for comment. Other alleged victims described sexual fondling, and a prosecutor said their testimony will provide crucial corroborating evidence.

While sex abuse scandals have rocked the Roman Catholic Church nationwide during the past 18 months, the charges against Stanislaus mark the first prosecution of a priest or brother in Santa Clara County since last year's case in which two Jesuits were convicted of lewd conduct in recent years with two mentally retarded men who worked in the kitchen of a Jesuit retirement center in Los Gatos.

In response to a civil lawsuit, the California Province of the Society of Jesus agreed last year to pay $7.5 million to the two kitchen workers.

A top Jesuit official said attorneys for the religious order are now hoping to settle out of court with lawyers for at least two men who say they were molested by Stanislaus.

``We are attempting to do what is right in that regard,'' said the official, the Rev. Alfred Naucke.

For privacy reasons, the newspaper does not name sexual assault victims unless they choose to be identified.

One man's experience

Chuck, the 49-year-old in Hollister, is a burly fan of the Oakland Raiders a tough guy's team. But he cries freely when he describes his experience at the Novitiate Home for Boys, the residential program that Stanislaus ran from about 1969 to 1971. Authorities closed the home after receiving a complaint of misconduct in late 1970, although no charges were filed then.

Chuck said he confided in a few people during the years, but he has not retained a lawyer and only spoke to police after reading about other church scandals in March 2002.

As a teenage runaway occasionally in trouble with the law, Chuck had been sent to the county juvenile hall, where he met the young Jesuit known as ``Brother Stan'' in the late 1960s. Chuck said the volunteer chaplain would buy him a soda or a candy bar and eventually, he invited Chuck to live with him and other boys in Los Gatos.

It was a prized invitation, Chuck said: The boys at the hall -- many of whom had troubled family lives -- looked up to Stanislaus because he was young and hip. In many ways, he created a stable life in his home, having the boys do chores and homework, but also giving them a rare taste of freedom -- to grow their hair long, wear bell-bottoms and listen to rock music.

But about six months after 16-year-old Chuck moved into the home, he recounted tearfully, Stanislaus went into his bedroom late one night and said he wanted ``to talk.'' What followed was the first of several alleged fondling incidents.

Once, Chuck said, it happened the night before he was supposed to get his driver's license. He feared that if he didn't cooperate, he might not get his license.

``It's hard because we liked Stan. He did so much for us,'' Chuck said. ``I had never had that kind of freedom allowance, chores, checking in on homework. The feelings, the betrayal was something you tried not to think about.''

The other man has told authorities about similar incidents, according to court papers. Also a former runaway, he told a sheriff's detective that he loved Stanislaus even though he grew afraid of him.

``He was like a second dad to me,'' the man, now 49, told the Mercury News. ``But the more I think about what he did, I'm so upset and mad about it.''

``It's hard for me to be touched by anyone, even family,'' he added. Though he's now enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous, he said, ``it's even hard for me to go to an AA meeting, because they hug each other, and I really don't like that.''

For years after, the man said he used alcohol and methamphetamine to block his memories of what happened when he was 15. He drifted from job to job, had a series of scrapes with the law, and only decided to kick his habits while he was in a jail rehabilitation program last year.

Letter spurs action

That's also when he wrote a letter to local police about what happened more than 30 years earlier. For years, he said, he had tried to tell other adults and even consulted attorneys, but no one took him seriously. But at a time when clergy sex scandals were drawing headlines around the country, his letter prompted the sheriff's department to launch an investigation in February 2002 that led to the arrest of Stanislaus this week.

Now sober and working as a painter, the man said it was difficult to see Stanislaus' photo alongside an article about the case in Thursday's newspaper. Though he has retained an attorney, he said he doesn't relish seeing Stanislaus in court.

``But I will testify,'' he added, ``because I've gone this far with it, and justice has to be done.''

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