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Teacher’s abuser among 15 priests named by San Jose diocese

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Social science teacher John Salberg, who was repeatedly abused by a San Jose priest as a child

Social science teacher John Salberg, who was repeatedly abused by a San Jose priest as a child

Julia Marques da Silva

Julia Marques da Silva

Social science teacher John Salberg, who was repeatedly abused by a San Jose priest as a child

Staff report

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San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath released Thursday the names pf 15 priests who have been accused of abusing children, among them was the Rev. Joseph Pritchard, whose abuse was brought to light in the early 2000s in a high-profile trial.

One of Pritchard’s victims was social science teacher John Salberg, who had testified that he had been repeatedly abused at St. Martin of Tours church in San Jose, starting when he was in second grade in the 1970s. In 2005, he and three others won a $6 million lawsuit against Pritchard for his years of abuse.

Salberg and others believe that the renewed attention to the Catholic church’s dealing of victims of sex abuse by its clergy is just the starting point, and that there are more priests to be named.

“There’s a lot more information that they’re not divulging,” Salberg said. “These names didn’t come back in 2002 when I went public.”

The San Jose diocese is the first in the Bay Area to release names, following a move by a Pennsylvania diocese to do the same.

Salberg said that there is still more to name, and that the church should go further back to claims of priest molestation.

“What happened to the victims in the 50s, 60s and 70s?” he asked. “They didn’t have a voice, and they weren’t represented. That kind of makes me sick to my stomach that they are holding on to that information.”

Despite his criticism’s of the Catholic church’s handling of the sex abuse, Salberg remains a devout practitioner.

“I look at this church as a foundation for my life,” he said. “When I’ve had low times in my life, it’s my faith that has gotten me through.

“The institution is flawed, but the rituals are good, the ideas are good,” he continued. “It works for me, but it doesn’t work for a lot of people, and I understand and respect that.”

He still has his three children attend St. Martin, the school where he was abused.

“I believe they’re safe and protected so I believe the Catholic Church has done some good things since 2002,” he said. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t put my kids in there. I put my money where my mouth is.”

Salberg is not afraid to tell his students about his traumatic experience, and talks about his faith openly.

In his disappointment that there are a lot more priests to be named, he said that the church’s tactic is to stall until its victims die and go silent.

“In that way the story dies,” he said. “And they just want to wait it out.”

– Note: This article has been updated to reflect that John Salberg was not abused 700 times by the Rev. Joseph Pritchard.

Interview by Julia Marques da Silva

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Teacher’s abuser among 15 priests named by San Jose diocese