College Sports Professional and Survivor of Child Sexual Assault Announces Lawsuit, Calls for Change

College Sports Professional and Survivor of Child Sexual Assault Announces Lawsuit Against Diocese of Oakland Under AB 218

Survivor to Share Story and Address Stigma Against Survivors within Organized Sports Community 

(Oakland, CA) – Today in Oakland, James Bartko—a college athletic department administrator, survivor of clergy abuse in the Diocese of Oakland, and author—along with two fellow clergy abuse survivors, attorney Jeff Anderson, and Alameda County Attorney Rick Simons will:

  • Announce and discuss the release of Mr. Bartko’s personal account of his abuse and the consequent collapse of his life and career in college sports administration. Currently working as Senior Ambassador for Advancement and Alumni Relations at the University of Oregon, Mr. Bartko is a survivor of child sexual assault by notorious predator priest and Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) coach Fr. Stephen Kiesle at St. Joseph’s parish in Pinole (California). Mr. Bartko’s new book, “Boy in the Mirror” tells the story of his abuse, and the disastrous impact it had on his personal and professional life while he was the Athletic Director at Fresno State University.
  • Highlight the stigma within the sports community against openly acknowledging and addressing the reality of child sexual assault. Mr. Bartko hopes to help fight this stigma through his book, his public sharing of his own painful experience, and his foundation dedicated to caring for survivors and preventing child sexual abuse. All proceeds from “Boy in the Mirror” go toward supporting the foundation.
  • Discuss the notorious legacy of Mr. Bartko’s abuser, Fr. Kiesle (aka, “The Pied Piper”), and the Diocese of Oakland’s efforts to conceal Kiesle’s crimes. Mr. Bartko will be joined at this event by two other Kiesle survivors from St. Joseph’s, both of whom soon left sports after Kiesle, their CYO coach and priest, molested them.
    • In 1978, Fr. Kiesle was arrested and convicted of sexually abusing children at Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Union City. The Bishop of Oakland, knowing Kiesle was on probation and in court-ordered therapy, approved Kiesle working special assignments in two neighboring dioceses.
    • In 1981, Kiesle left the priesthood, at which point the Diocese of Oakland finally requested that the Vatican have him defrocked. Then Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict) delayed the removal of Kiesle for years to avoid a public scandal in the Church. Kiesle then moved back to Pinole, where he was allowed by Church officials to return to St. Joseph’s as Volunteer Youth Minister from 1985 until he was removed in 1988 due to increasing outcry from the St. Joseph’s lay community.
    • In 2002, Kiesle was arrested and charged on 13 counts of child sexual abuse. In 2004, he was accused of sexually abusing a girl and was sentenced to six years in prison. He was released on parole in 2009 and sent back to prison months later on a parole violation. Upon his release, Kiesle became a registered sex offender. He remains living in the East Bay and has been seen at community locations where children are present.
    • On February 18, 2019, Kiesle was included on the Diocese of Oakland’s list of priests “credibly accused” of child sexual assault. At this time, Bishop Barber stated that there has been no “credible incident” of child sexual abuse by a Diocese of Oakland priest since 1988 and that no active priest in the Diocese had a credible allegation of child sexual abuse. However, just a month prior, the Diocese announced that one of its priests, Fr. Alex Castillo, was reported to have had inappropriate contact with a minor, which the Diocese did not immediately report to the police. Since then, a second active Oakland priest, Fr. Mendoza-Vela, was arrested and convicted of child sexual abuse.

Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 11:00 AM (PT)

Hilton Oakland Airport (Pacific Room – BLDG 4)
1 Hegenberger Road
Oakland, CA 94621

The press conference will be live-streamed via YouTube and on Facebook.