At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Chicago's Cardinal Stritch) stood over me and said, I had to "stop babbling" about what the priest did to me. It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Today, I babble.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Police call it suicide, survivor sees overlooked evidence and wrongful death, asks for homicide investigation

UPDATE: Slammed at work, more stories coming soon (10/08)
By Kay Ebeling
In the last years of his life, a fellow Jesuit brother assaulted him sexually when he had two broken legs and couldn't defend himself. He then lived in a recovery center, where many of the fellow priest patients were named in pedophile cases. Father Jim Chevedden hated living around sexual predators, and he’d asked the Jesuits numerous times to let him relocate. In May 2004 he was enthusiastic, as he was finally going to start a new assignment.

Then a fellow patient at the Jesuit recovery center took Father Chevedden for a ride. . .

His brother John Chevedden of Los Angeles recently wrote to the District Attorney in San Jose: “There is no evidence that the victim had any contact with the 42-inch high wall. Therewas no trace of white paint from the wall on the victim’s dark clothes or on his shoes. There was no clothing fibers from the victim’s dark clothing on the white wall. There were no victim footprints on the wall. There were no victim fingerprints at the scene. There is no evidence that the victim was on the hoods of any of the new cars parked next to the wall.”

It’s been more than a month, and the DA has still not responded to John Chevedden's letters and emails about the questionable death of his brother, Father James, who landed face up on the sidewalk just a few yards away from where the DA sits in his office in San Jose.

Details of his brother’s death do not add up to “suicide” for John Chevedden.

On the day he died, Father Chevedden’s psychiatrist told police: “The decedent called to talk and said he had a hard time sleeping the night before. There were no specific problems discussed and no suicidal ideations.”

On the day of James' death, Father Jerold Lindner was supposed to be there, to pick up Brother Jim after jury duty.

So the last person to be alone with Brother Chevedden before he died was likely one of the more menacing predator priests in the state of California, Jerold W. Lindner.

Lindner’s sidekick, another serial pedophile at the Jesuit center in Los Gators, was Brother Charles Leonard Connor who, to make matters worse, even sexually assaulted Brother Chevedden while he was immobilized in a wheelchair because of two broken legs. Now the two credibly accused predator priests had been intimidating Father Chevedden for months.

Instead of being picked up from jury duty that day by Jerold Lindner, James Chevedden was found dead on the sidewalk outside the courtroom parking structure. There was no note, no suicidal behavior.

In 1998, Jim had fallen off a ladder and it was not clear if it had been a suicide attempt or a case of his not taking antidepressant medication as prescribed. Since that incident, the priest had been taking his medication regularly, and in early 2004 the priest reportedly was doing fine.

The events the day of Brother Jim's death:

James Chevedden asked Jerold Lindner to say Mass for him, so James could get to jury duty on time. Instead the ever manipulative Lindner turned the tables and insisted on driving Chevedden to jury duty. They then took a circuitous route, time for a good long talk.

Lindner dropped Chevedden off at the courthouse and made a questionable U-Turn, as if he was in a hurry.

In L.A. today, John Chevedden brings up that U-Turn often when he talks about what happened to his brother. Unanswered questions about his brother’s death keep the retired aerospace engineer motivated. He pores over police reports and writes to law enforcement. He connects with activists, such as members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

John Chevedden wants an investigation into his brother's questionable death

On May 19, 2004, Father James Chevedden reported for jury duty in clerical collar, so no doubt he was noticed. The priest waited in a jury room for hours, then his group was dismissed. Minutes later, Chevedden’s body
was found dead on the sidewalk outside. His Bible was sitting next to the barricade at the top of a six-story parking structure. Based almost solely on the evidence of the Bible lying where he would have jumped, the San Jose Police ruled Chevedden’s death a suicide.

Police never questioned others on Chevedden's jury panel or courtroom personnel who worked with the waiting jury

There were no fibers from the wall on Chevedden’s clothing, no fingerprints or footprints on the cars where he would have had to climb to jump to his death. There was, however, plenty of opportunity for someone to throw his body over the side. Homicide would coincide better with marks on the body and face and its position on the sidewalk.


There was no suicide note, though the priest wrote prolifically in journals. At the Los Gatos Center, Father Chevedden thrived on medication, showed no signs of suicidal depression for which he had been treated more than five years earlier.

The only unusual thing in Father James Chevedden’s life before he died was the pattern of intimidation and even sexual assault with which he had to live, as a brother in “treatment” at the Jesuit center in Los Gatos, California. Because Chevedden had survived a bout of depression six years earlier, he had to continue living at the Jesuit recovery center in Santa Clara County.

The last man to see or be with Chevedden before he died:

Four of Jerold Lindner's accusers said they were so traumatized that they tried to commit suicide as teenagers. Others reported suffering failed marriages, depression, flashbacks and a loss of faith. Many said they had remained silent until now because of a deep sense of shame and because they feared retaliation by Lindner. The alleged victims said they are angry -- at the priest and at the Jesuits. "We all want him behind bars, where he belongs," said Tamara Roehm, 35, of Lancaster, one of Lindner's nieces.

See: LA Priest Blamed for Legacy of Pain in Los Angeles Times

Also look up: more stories about Lindner under L at Bishop Accountability:

Look up more stories about Connor under C at Bishop Accountability:

John Chevedden emailed City of Angels:

Kay, These are the my notes on Fr. Thomas Smolich’s deposition which I attended in San Jose. Fr. Smolich is now the top Jesuit in the USA and he was the Provincial of the Jesuit Calif. Province from 1999 to 2005.


== Deposition of Fr. Smolich in Chevedden case, July 28, 2006

[Page] 19
When Smolich was made Provincial in 1999, Jim was permanently assigned to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos
Smolich never met Jim’s 2002 to 2004 psychiatrist, Dr. Maloof
Jim’s 1998 jump was not a suicide attempt. It was the result of a conflict that Jim had with his parishioners.
Dr. Susan (Jim’s psychiatrist from 1996 to 2002) was put on the Jesuit Sensitive Incidents Team and Smolich knew Jim was seeing her as a client (conflict of interest for Dr. Susan)
Smolich did not have day-to-day care of the 435 Calif. Province Jesuits.
Smolich did not ask the Jesuit communities to send their priests with psychological problems to Los Gatos. [Yet Jim was required to live at Los Gatos.]
Jim’s first complaint re Br. Connor was in June 2004 (not in March 2002, see page 77 below)
Smolich claims that Jim merely complained about harassment by Br. Connor.
Smolich claims that Br. Connor’s [retaliatory] jamming of Jim’s injured foot happened before Connor’s groping
Connor must be telling the truth about Jim because Connor even admitted to massaging one of the dishwashers [above the waist].
Smolich did not know who to believe – Chevedden or Connor [a registered sex offender]
In March 2002 Smolich knew Jim felt strongly against living with sex offenders
The University of Santa Clara (where Jim wanted to move to) did not have a suitable “personality perspective” for Jim – maybe Smolich means the Jesuit culture there was too gay
Jim raised his fist to Fr. Smolich because Fr. Smolich did not give Jim a yes or no answer fast enough
Jim also let out a “frustration” sound.
Jim could “scream out loud” so it was safe to house him with Br. Connor
Jim’s letter to Fr. Neuhaus was an attempt to go to the press [It was a request for advice]
[Smolich infers that since Jim’s letter to Fr. Neuhaus did not result in a news article, that Smolich has no fear of Jim blowing the whistle.]
Groping is harassment according to Smolich
Was Jim a liar? No. [But Smolich could not decide if Jim was telling the truth about Br. Connor’s groping]
Preventing Jim from accepting the New York Chinatown assignment was Smolich’s decision
Fr. Lindner [housed in the same building as Jim] may well be the sickest human being.

Kay – This article was in the San Jose Mercury News in 2008. It mentions Fr. Jerold Lindner, who was alone in a car with my brother 3-hours before his death. Fr. Lindner was a friend of Br. Connor who sexually assaulted my brother in 1998 and then in retaliation injured my brother's foot which had recently been operated on.


From Mercury News Story:

The lone Jesuit accused of abuse in the Diocese of Oakland was the Rev. Jerold Lindner, who was named in a 2003 lawsuit by a girl who said he molested her at Corpus Christi in Piedmont while he was serving at St. Ignatius Prep School in San Francisco.

The lawsuit contends that from the 1950s to the 1980s, Lindner "abused and molested his 5-year-old nephew in Arizona and Berkeley," "sodomized and molested two brothers, ages 4 and 7," "orally copulated and sodomized his 11-year-old nephew" and "molested three nieces."

Lindner has been accused by 10 men and women in Southern California, Phoenix and the Bay Area, the Los Angeles Times reported. Lindner has denied the allegations, but he was part of a secret $625,000 settlement in 1997, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Kay, I sent this second email message with new information to the San Jose District Attorney’s office (David Tomkins) in regard to the questionable death of my brother.

- John Chevedden

Dear Mr. Tomkins

This is to forward additional information to supplement my September 1, 2009 email message on the lack of evidence to explain how a 56 year-old man can thrust himself, without any help, into to an immediate horizontal fall that propels him to land approximately 10 feet away from the building, parallel to the building and flat on his back. The difficulty of this is compounded by the police photos that lead one to believe that the fall began from a 42-inch high wall with a narrow 12-inch ledge that was blocked off by parked cars.

The additional information here highlights the significance of the lack of evidence to explain the launching of the victim’s body to its final resting place approximately 10-feet outward from the building.

There is no evidence that the victim had any contact with the 42-inch high wall. There was no trace of white paint from the wall on the victim’s dark clothes or on his shoes. There was no clothing fibers from the victim’s dark clothing on the white wall. There were no victim footprints on the wall. There were no victim fingerprints at the scene. There is no evidence that the victim was on the hoods of any of the new cars parked next to the wall.

Two factors compound each other: The launching of the body over a significant distance outward from the building and the lack of contact with the 42-inch wall with a narrow ledge which was a barrier to anything going over the side.

The victim also had unexplained injuries such as a bruised forehead and nose. Additionally the palm of the left hand showed numerous cuts and there was a cut on the right wrist. There was no evidence that the victim’s body or clothes had made any contact with the fence next to the body.

John Chevedden
Brother of James Chevedden

Lindner & Death Threat

Bart [Lynch] was four, he remembers, when Father [Jerold Lindner, S.J.] assaulted him in the course of a CFM camping trip. "Violence is the key issue, even more important than the sexual abuse. I literally feared for my life. Whispering in my ear, Father Jerry said, 'You want to live, don't you. Don't tell anyone, or I'll kill you.'"

This was after Father Jerry had sodomized the four-year old. "I remember blood in my pants and Father Jerry burying them in the woods".... But before the formal charges were laid, the Jesuits were made aware of the accusations against Father Jerry made by the two Lynch brothers.

In May of 1997, so Father Jerry has testified, he met with the Father Provincial, John Privett and also with Father Sonny Manuel, another senior Jesuit. According to testimony, Manuel said it was okay for Father Jerry to continue teaching at Loyola High, but that he couldn't lead youth groups to Europe because the agency running the trips would have to be informed of the lawsuit.

Michael Meadows, "The Case of Father Jerry," Counterpunch 1999:


Kay, Attached are photos of my brother 7-months before his death. Jim’s parishioners are celebrating his 25th jubilee as a priest.

In 2008, the Chevedden family received a moderate settlement, quietly, from the Jesuits for “wrongful death.” But those unanswered questions from the “suicide” still plague John Chevedden, who now retired from aerospace, pours out letters to law enforcement and media trying to get an investigation open into his brother’s 2004 death.

Supposedly Father Jim walked out from serving jury duty to the top level of the parking lot, set his Bible on the ground, and somehow got over the rail to fall to his death without touching anything around him. Just took up wings and flew over the rail to his death, is what the police report leads you to believe.


SYNOPSIS: On 5-19-04 at approx. 1648 hrs, a death occurred at 171 W. Nedding St. (parking garage), San Jose. The victim was located by fire paramedics on the ground on the north side of the garage. The victim was pronounced dead at 1648 hours by Fire Paramedic Estrada from Engine Five. The coroner was contacted and took custody of the victim.

NARRATIVE: On 5-19-04 at approx. 1647 hours I was dispatched to a call of a person down in the area of W. Hedding Street and No. San Pedro, San Joose. Upon my arrival, I contacted fire-paramedic Estrada #173 from Engine #5 and he said he had pronounced the victim dead at 1648 hours. Sgt. Pate #2737 was dispatched and was on scene. The scene was taped off with crime scene tape and the medical / fire personnel were escorted out of the scene.

I responded to 101 W. Younger and made contact with Maples and Mijokovic and they provided the following statements:

Statement of Maples: Maples was on her brake [sic] sitting on the break room balcony of building A at 101 W. Younger Ave. At Approx. 1624 Hours, Maples saw a dark object falling and hitting the ground at north side of the parking garage. Maples was approx. 100 to 150 yards away and could not see what the object was.

Maples went inside and asked R / P Mijokovic to move the security camera to the area of the dark object to see what it was. Maples did not see where the object had fallen from.

STATEMENT OF R/P MIJOKOVIC: Mijokovic said that Witness #1 had told him to turn the security camera to the parking garage to see what had fallen. Several minutes later Mijokovic used the security camera at the Dispatchers’ office to zoom in on the dark object.

After zooming in Mijokovic realized that the object was a body and called 911.

I responded back to the scene and was posted by Sgt. Paate as scene security. At 1953 Hours I took over the crime scene log from Office Waara #3345. Sergeant Barrera #2017 of the Night Detectives was advised and responded to the scene.

Items were located on the 6th floor of the parking garage directly above where the (V.) was located, see Officer Sizeth(?) #3474 F-3 for further.

Sgt. Pate adviced [sic] me that there was some possible latent prints on a vehicle on the 6th floor.

Physical Evidence: I lifted 3 cards of possible latent prints. Two cards from the front bumper of a Ford Expedition and one card from the light pole base located on the north east side of the sixth floor.

Officer Smith had taken photos of items prior to me dusting them.

At approx. 1901 hours Coroner Investigator Albright arrived at the scene and took custody of the victim.


“On the sixth floor of the garage I discovered a Jewish Bible and a legal note pad sitting on the floor next to the wall where the subject was found. On 5/19/04 at approx. 1656 hours, I responded to a suicide incident at 171 W. Hedding Street.”

Medical Examiner's Report Contradicts Police Report and Evidence in Several Places: :

“This 56-year old male was witnessed to have jumped from a six-story parking structure.”

NO, the witnesses saw an object falling, no one actually saw him jump. And physical evidence does not support a jump, as there was no residue from the white concrete wall on the dead priest’s body or clothing and no fingerprints found on the wall or nearby cars.

“Emergency services found the decedent face up on the dirt behind the parking structure.”

Why did Chevedden go out to the top floor of the parking structure. Why didn't police even attempt to interview persons who were with Chevedden in the jury room area?

Kay, This is the Medical Examiner Report. Page-one has the made-up story by the detectives that Jim was observed to have jumped. Jim was only observed after the fall began. Plus this report mentions the unexplained cuts to the hands and the unexplained bruised nose and forehead.- John


I spoke with the decedent's psychiatrist, George Maloof, who said that he treated him approximately two years for paranoia and depression. Dr. Maloof said the decedent had a prior suicide attempt by similar means of jumping off a building.”

No. James Chevedden was on a ladder when he fell and broke both legs, which is how he was immobilized in a wheelchair and as a result sexually assaulted by Connor.

(It’s so hard to write about sex crimes of Catholic priests without getting stuck in run-on sentences and endless references to similar crimes, they all seem connected.)

From Medical Examiner’s Report:

Dr. Maloof said the decedent was functioning well for the problems he exhibited. The decedent had recently worked at a ministry in Taiwan and because of his language skills worked at a Chinese ministry in Oakland.

The decedent repeatedly expressed his anxiety and stress over his job. Dr. Maloof said the decedent called him today to talk and said he had a hard time sleeping the night before.

"There were no specific problems discussed and no suicidal ideations.”

PLUS the Psychiatrist’s statement, that the day Chevedden died: “The decedent called to talk and said he had a hard time sleeping the night before. There were no specific problems discussed and no suicidal ideations.”

"There were no specific problems discussed and no suicidal ideations.”

Fr. James Chevedden had two job offers and hopes of being a parish priest again soon in the Chinese community he loved. His brother John has photos of Jim seven months before his death at his 25 year
jubilee and getting the Man of the Hour award from a Chinese American parish where he’d been serving, a big grin on his face.

Details of Brother Jim’s death just don't add up.

He’d been living in a kind of recovery center / spa “overlooking Santa Clara Valley.” Because of Jim Chevedden’s clinical depression, the Jesuits kept him in the center, with sexual predators who had dozens of credible, sometimes violent, charges against them. One of those predators even assaulted Jim when he was in a wheelchair.

Brother Jim wanted out, he was applying for jobs away from the center, he had a job offer, he was grinning ear to ear and taking his medication.


John Chevedden shows up today at events for clergy sex abuse survivors. He’s one of the most reliable members of SNAP in Los Angeles. John will arrive at a moment’s notice to leaflet, leaflet, leaflet. At the same time he strikes up conversations with the activists, describes the mysteries of his brother’s death.

John has been writing to the District Attorney of Santa Clara about the unsolved mystery of his brother’s death. So far no answer from law enforcement, surprise, surprise.


Jerold Lindner menaced him, then may have been the last person to see James Chevedden alive

John Chevedden of Los Angeles tells of the threatening environment in which his brother Jim lived the last months of his life. In the rehab center for Jesuits, at least two co-patients were serial sexual predators. They intimidated Brother James on a regular basis.

At one point while his brother was recovering from two broken legs, one of the priests, Father Connor sexually assaulted Brother Jim.

His brother wanted OUT of the Jesuit Center in Santa Clara, but Jesuit hierarchy continued to side with the very priests who were intimidating Father Jim, forcing him to stay.

He didn't like living around pedophiles, Father Jim told his brother John not long before his death. But he was also a dedicated Jesuit brother, who obeyed his superiors.

Lindner has been accused by 10 men and women in Southern California, Phoenix and the Bay Area, the Los Angeles Times reported. Lindner has denied the allegations, but he was part of a secret $625,000 settlement in 1997, according to the Los Angeles Times.

James Chevedden was finally going to get out from under the menacing stronghold of Jerold Lindner, then Lindner was the last person to see James Chevveden alive.

John Chevedden wants the District Attorney in San Jose to reopen the investigation into his brother’s death.

Q: You describe a scene that to me seems kind of threatening. Where Father Lindner took your brother for a ride, and drove him around in a very strange manner, just hours before your brother’s death. Can you describe that for me again?
JC: Well it seemed like Father Lindner tricked him into accepting a ride. My brother asked Father Lindner to say a Mass for him so that my brother could go to jury duty. And Father Lindner said, well you say the Mass, and then I’ll drive you. I think that my brother was very polite and he would be reluctant to turn down this favor, which would put him in a small car with a person who is credibly charged with sex abuse of young children.
And my brother was very, very dedicated to young children. He had a kindergarten, he was responsible for a kindergarten in Taiwan. And when my brother and I would take walks, I mean, he would strike up conversations with young children, and here there were all these media reports of how Lindner chose these young children as his victims.
Q: Did your brother mention Lindner to you as being a person who was kind of threatening?
JC: I believe he told me that he was concerned that he relied upon Lindner for some help with the computers, and he thought that Lindner had seen his password. And so he asked me to give him a new password on his Yahoo email.
Q: He was already not real comfortable about Lindner anyway?
JC: It seems that way. And here he was thrust into a situation where he had to depend upon Lindner for the, should we say, the daily necessities, you know, like for email access. And my brother also made comments that he would access certain websites at the computers at the Jesuit Center and then later on these websites were not accessible. It raises the question whether Lindner might have blocked, might have gone through the history and seen some of the websites and blocked access to them, that's a question that my brother had.

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