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San Jose’s Bellarmine College Prep faces sexual assault lawsuits

3 mins read

Two lawsuits were filed against Bellarmine College Prep. Court document shows the school was involved in alleged sexual abuse in the 1960s and 70s. 

The person who filed the lawsuit was a student in the 1969-70 school year. He claims he was abused by Brother William “Bill” Farrington, and the school enabled the abuse. 

Attorney Mary Bajo said that Farrington performed a “hernia check” on the victim every time he visited the infirmary, even if his injuries were in the knee or hand areas. 

“Farrington wasn’t authorized to perform hernia checks,” Bajo said. “To our knowledge, he had no medical training. He certainly was not a licensed doctor or certified nurse. This was a huge red flag that Bellarmine should have seen and put a stop to Farrington’s behavior.”

The lawsuit states that the incident began in December 1969 to March 1970. It accuses Farrington of inappropriately touching the victim’s genital area.

The victim suffered physical injuries and “shock and injury to his nervous system,” according to the lawsuit. He claims the abuse caused him physical, mental, and nervous pain.

According to Bajo, Farrington’s alleged abusive behavior was an “open secret” in the Jesuit community. 

In 2012, he was accused of sexual abuse by another former Bellarmine student. Farrington later worked at Jesuit High School in Sacramento where he was accused of sexual misconduct again. 

“It turns out Brother Farrington has a long history of sexually assaulting minors,” Bajo said. “In the Bellarmine cases, most of the assaults took place on campus, however, we know that he visited (plaintiff) John Roe once during a hospital stay.”

The lawsuit also claims that Bellarmine knew of or had reason to believe Farrington’s alleged predatory ways before the victim was abused.

Tracey Primrose, the communications director for the Jesuits West Province, which sponsors Bellarmine, responded to a request to comment on this story.

The Jesuits West Province has a zero-tolerance policy for abuse of a minor or a vulnerable adult and stringent procedures in place to ensure their safety. Because of the importance that Jesuits West places on transparency, accountability and safety in ministry, in 2018, the province released the names of all Jesuits who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor or a vulnerable adult since 1950. We encourage anyone who feels they might have been victimized by a Jesuit to contact the province as well as appropriate law enforcement and child-protective agencies. We know that God’s love is a powerful force for reconciliation and healing, and we pray for all victims of abuse.

Charlene

Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.

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