Credit: Anthony Gerace / The Guardian

In Oakland, California, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Christ the Light is difficult to miss. Towering over Lake Merritt in the heart of the city, its modernist glass dome reflects the East Bay sun in all directions.

The building, which was completed in 2008 and financed by the Roman Catholic diocese of Oakland, cost $175m. But that price tag confounds Joseph Piscitelli.

In the 1970s, Piscitelli attended a Catholic high school in nearby Richmond, where, from the age of 14, he experienced repeated sexual abuse at the hands of his vice-principal, an ordained priest. For decades, Piscitelli experienced nightmares and panic attacks. Friends who had also been abused turned to drugs and alcohol, and several took their own lives.

In 2003, Piscitelli sued the Salesian College Preparatory high school and the Salesian order, and won. While the cases were decided in his favor in 2006, they had not held leaders at the top accountable. So, in 2020, he filed a new suit, this time against the Oakland diocese.

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