“He knew when I went down the hall, if I had to go to the bathroom at night, and he would come in the bathroom after me,” Joe Callander describes months of rapes by the priest who lived in the dormitory at his school in Massachusetts in the 1960s. Later in the night, as Joe lay sleepless, Fr. Mario would get up, “leave about four thirty quarter to five and sure enough, he went to Father Odo to Confession. He would go two three times a week to Confession the same nights,” after raping 14-year-old Joe. (READ this story also at Alternet here)
Thirty years later, Joe and an attorney negotiated a settlement with the Xaverian Missionaries that, Joe thought, included an agreement that Pezzotti would never live around or have any access to children. In 1993, Joe agreed to confidentiality, along with the assurance children would be safe from Fr. Mario.
Last year in Eastern Massachusetts another victim of a Xaverian pedophile priest in the region, Bill Nash, was surfing around on the internet and “I found the picture,” he said, of the now infamous photo of Father Mario Pezzotti in Brazil surrounded by near-naked children, sneering into the camera.
“I was going through these Adobe versions of their newsletters in Italian, they're 25 pages apiece, and there was a picture. Pezzotti was the perpetrator of a guy I’d known for eight years, Joe Callander, up in Vermont.”
Bill drove to Vermont to share the pictures with his friend.
"Joe was horrified because he had been promised by the Church during his settlement that Father Mario would not ever be around children."
A Fifty Year Silence Broken
A Seventeen Year Confidentiality Agreement Ends
"I found the pictures and and shared them with Joe," Bill said, "He was betrayed again."
Bill also sent the photos to City of Angels, and we posted them on February 1, 2010, here and at our then brand new venue, AlterNet, which extended the reach of City of Angels from hundreds to thousands of readers.
A reporter with the AP in Brazil emailed City of Angels wanting to know more about Pezzotti.
City of Angels put him in touch with Bill Nash.
And the photos of Mario Pezzotti and their publication became the memorable lead in the AP story that was repeated in hundreds of media around the globe April 14, 2010:
"There he was, five decades later, the priest who had raped Joe Callander in Massachusetts. The photo in the Roman Catholic newsletter showed him with a smile across his wrinkled face, near-naked Amazon Indian children in his arms and at his feet."
For example here:
AP IMPACT: Predator Priests Shuffled Around Globe - ABC News
Apr 14, 2010 ... (AP).
The Rev. Mario Pezzotti was working with children and supervising ...
“They Broke the agreement of being around children,” Callander told City of Angels in a recent interview. Provincial “Bob Maloney in particular, the Xaverians, they told me he was going to be kept away from children. I wanted to make it a written part of the settlement.
"I signed the settlement agreement but with the inference that the Xaverians were going to keep Mario Pezzotti away from children, and it wasn’t them saying that to me on one occasion, they had told me they would keep him away from children. They had written it in letters.”
Joe described life in the boarding school, where Pezzotti spotted him as a target, a reverent freshman whose father died when the boy was an infant. Now at age fourteen, he was full of passion, come to the Catholic boarding school with hopes of becoming a priest.
"If you had to get up and go to the bathroom at night, he knew when I went down the hall, and he would go in the bathroom after me.
"It was many times he did that.
"Follow me in the bathroom or drag me into a barbershop room right off to the side."
Joe said that in the dormitory, “Everybody would get up at five thirty and I wouldn't sleep well after this started happening. So I always knew where Pezzotti was at."
Abuse of the Confessional
Life in the dormitory:
Pezotti would "leave about four thirty quarter to five in the morning and I noticed he’d do that," Joe Callander said. "I’d watch and sure enough, he went to Father Odo, his spiritual advisor or whatever you call him. He would go two three times a week to Confession.
"The same night early in the morning [after raping Joe], it would be after those same nights, he'd go to Confession first thing in the morning.
"It went on over two or three months and Father Odo was always giving Father Pezzotti absolution."
Pezzotti’s Regular Confessions Conflicted with Everything Joe Believed About Confession.
"If he was telling him the truth in Confession, that priest shouldn't have been giving absolution after Pezotti was doing it over and over again showing he wasn’t going to repent."
Still, mornings after raping 14 year old Joe, Father Mario would always go to Confession.
"Two to three nights, five nights out of seven, there were three occasions I can remember he went straight to the Confession room.
"I knew what was going on, I knew he was going to Confession. At first I thought, at least I was going to be safe. Then every time it wasn’t safe, it just continued.
"It continued until the day I threw the fire extinguisher at him down the stairs.
"He left me alone after that."
The Beginning of Behavioral Problems
For the Boy Who Once Wanted to Be a Priest
After Joe threw the fire extinguisher at Father Mario on the landing at the Catholic boarding school, "he gave me a constant hard time," Joe said. "Dishes every morning noon and night until I left the school.
"I know there were two guys he got to after me," Joe said, "Maloney told me there were two other ones.
"These people knew this in 1993, that in 1961, 62, 63, there were victims, a little girl somewhere around that time, all victimized by Pezzotti.
"He was supposed to be kept away from children."
Joe lived with triggers and complications so many victims of pedophile priests share.
"I was raising all kinds of hell," he says, "asking to be kicked out of the school. I was so unruly. I think Pezzotti always stepped in and told them to wait, not to expell me, because he was afraid I was going to go home and tell."
At Right, Joe Callander, around age he was when Fr. Mario Pezzotti routinely raped him in the dormitory washroom.
At age 15, after months of being raped during the night in the dorm, Joe finally got to leave the school.
"When I went home, in my family, priests are considered saints. I told them what happened and they said I was lying a priest wouldn't do those things."
The 1993 settlement money helped send his one daughter and one foster daughter to school, then the stock market crashed, now the money is gone.
But Joe Callander, a noble Vermont rural American, kept his word, and did not break his confidentiality agreement with the Xaverian Missionaries.
"The only ones I was allowed to tell was my immediate family, my wife and brothers and sisters," he said. "I never told anyone besides my wife. My kids knew there was something going on that had to do with the Catholic Church, just from overhearing things."
Then Joe saw the pictures of Mario Pezzotti surrounded by nearly naked children in Brazil.
Continues in Part 2 coming tomorrow.
Video here: Promo Video for Catholic Youth Missions
Shows footage of the Xaverian school where the abuse of Joe Callander and several other children happened at the hands of Father Mario Pezzotti.AND:
Here are letters sent to Joe by the Xaverians, where they skirt around the issue but never actually do say it in writing that Father Mario Pezzotti, numerous times accused pedopohile priest, would no longer be around children.
So there certainly is no reason for him to stay quiet.
Posted by Kay Ebeling, Producer, The City of Angels Is Everywhere