A graduate of Saint Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville is calling on the school to take action against a teacher. Michael Cassabon alleges that the teacher enabled a priest to sexually abuse him.
Back in 2013, Cassabon came forward about the abuse that he says started in the late 90s when he was a teenager and student at St. Joseph’s.
And while he never filed criminal charges, the diocese of Charleston and the Vatican found enough evidence to defrock the priest.
Now years later Cassabon has learned the teacher who introduced them has been supporting that priest.
It was 1997 when Michael Cassabon says a teacher, who still works at Saint Joseph’s, started driving him from Greenville to Greenwood to meet up with a Priest named Hayden Vaverek.
“With me in particular the teacher helped encouarge a relationship with the priest and that got to the point where he was driving me to rectory for these overnight stays in which I had a guest room in the rectory but then the priest would come get me from the guest room and come bring me to his room,” said Cassabon.
Cassabon is not alleging that the teacher, whose name we are not identifying because he has not been charged, saw the actual abuse.
And in a statement from the school headmaster to parents this week, Keith Kiser wrote:
“Cassabon’s only accusation against ______, first made in November of 2017, was that he should have been aware of Vaverek’s misconduct, a point he specifically denied in both 2013 and 2015 when he asserted that Mr. ______ could not have been aware of Vaverek’s behavior.”
Cassabon said what changed, was that in 2017 he discovered the teacher was a board member on the former priests non-profit, Pax Bonum.
“I think any normal person if they had realized that their student had been abused by a priest, would have gone bollistic, and instead he is raising money for him, and then that gave me a whole new perspective on the whole situation,” said Cassabon.
St. Josephs said the teacher is no longer on that non-profit board as of December according to the headmaster’s directive.
The school stands behind the teacher but in that letter home to parents Kiser also wrote “I am praying for healing for our graduate whom I have always respected and considered a friend. No one should have to suffer what he has suffered, most especially within the church.”
Cassabon says he never wanted to go public with this, and gave the school an opportunity to take action for the last 14 months. He is especially concerned about his parents who still live in the Simpsonvlle area, and who he said also trusted St. Josephs when they let their son drive with the teacher to visit the priest.
“It breaks my heart that this hurts the community of St. Josephs and the Catholic community in the Upstate, but it’s necessary to speak the truth becasue there are people out there who are suffering and who don’t have the resources around them to bring that suffering to light,” said Cassabon.
Cassabon, who now lives in Canada, says since this latest information has come to light, other St. Joseph’s alumn have come forward alleging sexual abuse. He says he has encouraged them to report that abuse to the school and the Diocese of Charleston.