Catholic High School Settles 1979 Abuse Allegations for $700,000

By Matthai Chakko Kuruvila
San Francisco Chronicle [Richmond CA]
June 30, 2006

A Catholic high school in Richmond agreed to pay $700,000 to settle allegations that it knew a teacher had abused one of its students but failed to act on the accusation.

Salesian High School admitted no wrongdoing.

The plaintiff, a 17-year-old senior at the time, said that a lay history teacher, Samuel Vittone, sexually abused him in 1979. He also said the school knew Vittone had "in the past engaged, and was continuing to engage in unlawful sexually related conduct with minors ... but intentionally suppressed, concealed or failed to disclose this information," according to records in Alameda County Superior Court.

Attorney John Manly, who filed the suit in December 2003, said there was "unequivocal evidence" that school authorities knew about the past abuse by Vittone.

Stephen McFeely, an attorney representing the school, said there was no evidence anyone in authority was told about past abuse. He said "there was some evidence" another teacher may have known about the incident, but that the other teacher was Vittone's lover and not a person in authority.

McFeely, a Los Angeles attorney, said the school settled because the judge told the jury that a co-worker knowing about the incidents made the school liable. McFeely said both Vittone and the other teacher are now dead.

E-mail Matthai Chakko Kuruvila at


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