Some parents at Star of the Sea School say they’ve begun writing letters and placing calls to Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordelione to remove the school’s pastor, the Rev. Joseph Illo, after learning of a court case where the pastor was found guilty of causing emotional distress to a young girl.
Bob Regan, a parent of a student at the school, said many parents contacted San Francisco’s archbishop last week after learning about the case, which was settled in San Joaquin County Superior Court in 2005.
In that case, the girl in 2001 reported alleged sexual misconduct by another priest working under Illo, who at the time was at St. Joseph’s Parish in Modesto. The lawsuit states Illo in turn called the girl a liar and yelled at her, causing emotional distress. The girl was ultimately awarded $20,000 in damages.
Regan told The San Francisco Examiner on Sunday that parents at the school are planning on having a private meeting this week to discuss the court case. When asked how many parents have contacted the archbishop about their concerns, Regan speculated “more than 200.” “You really have to work hard to find parents who are not dismayed by what’s going on,” Regan said.
Regan said parents at the school want to know why they weren’t informed about the court case concerning Illo.
“We have to come together as a parent body and coordinate our actions so we can protect the school we love so much,” Regan said.
Regan also said the school “will not survive” if Illo isn’t removed and parents “need to know our kids are safe and that the archdicoese is looking out for our kids.”
Regan said parents haven’t received a response yet from Cordelione. Cordelione and Illo could not be reached for comment Sunday. Some in the parish have expressed support for Illo. Within the past month, a petition with more than 500 signatures was delivered to Cordileone urging Illo be kept in the parish.
News of the settlement is the latest controversy in recent months at the school. Previously, parents were upset about a new policy to no longer train girls as altar servers and the distribution of sexually explicit pamphlets to children before confession.
The school has around 250 students.