St. Ignatius high school teacher accused of sex abuse

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A prestigious San Francisco Catholic school is facing a lawsuit after failing to protect its students from an alleged pedophile. 

Peter Devine was a theater teacher at St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in the 1990s. According to his LinkedIn page, he worked at the Catholic Jesuit high school for four decades in its drama and English departments. 

And last week, a San Francisco man reported that he was a freshman student at St. Ignatius in 1996 when Devine sexually assaulted him. 

The first incident allegedly happened when the student, 14 years old at the time, approached Devine inside the school’s theater and inquired about acting in the school play. 

Attorney Timothy Hale wrote, “At the conclusion of the discussions, the perpetrator and (student) hugged. The perpetrator prolonged the hug then put his hands on (the student’s) shoulders and said something to the effect of, ‘We’re men and men can kiss on the lips. Isn’t that right?’ The perpetrator then aggressively kissed (the student.) Plaintiff was shocked and froze as the kiss continued. Perpetrator then said ‘See, that’s okay, isn’t it?’”

The student said he left the theater feeling terrified and he actively tried to avoid Devine for the rest of his high school years. 

During his years at St. Ignatius, the student felt as though he had “a monster chasing him around campus,” an investigator wrote in a report obtained from the press. 

The student was required to take one class in his senior year taught by Devine. According to the lawsuit, the teacher sexually assaulted the student during class. 

St. Ignatius school has “a policy of secrecy that has created a culture of hidden sexual abuse to which Plaintiff and many other children have fallen victim. The secrecy and abuse continue,” Hale wrote.

Devine continued to go backstage with students until at least 2021 and remained a teacher at SI until he retired in 2022, according to the lawsuit.

In 2022, the school hired an investigator to look into Devine’s inappropriate behavior. The investigator interviewed the teacher and witnesses and concluded Devine was lying. 

“Devine was found not credible. He had a motive to lie and made inconsistent statements,” the investigator wrote.

The alleged victim, now 41 years old, continues to suffer from emotional and psychological issues. 

The lawsuit also claims that there is evidence Devine sexually abused other students as well. 

In the mid-2000s, a staff member allegedly saw Devine pin a male student against a wall backstage at Bannan Theater using a “sexually intimidating posture,” the lawsuit states.

The staff member described the student as looking “terrified and trapped. The boy had no place to go as Devine had pressed his arms against his head so that the boy could not move his head from side to side or move backward because his head was pressed against the wall. When Devine realized he was being observed, he immediately stepped away from the boy, appeared embarrassed and annoyed, and walked away,” Hale wrote.

The staff member reported the incident and Devine was banned from going backstage with students. However, Devine never followed the rule and administrators did nothing to enforce it, the lawsuit said. 


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.