James Chevedden, a Jesuit priest, died on his birthday, May 19, 2004. Authorities say Father Chevedden, who was on jury duty that day, committed sucide by jumping from the roof of a parking structure across the street from the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice. His family doesn't believe that's the case. " I question whether he was hurled over because hee seemed to be motionless," Chevedden's brother John told ABC7 News.
In the years before his death, Father Chevedden had accused another priest living at a church facility in Los Gatos of sexually abusing him. The Jesuits reached a $1.6 million settlement with the family following Chevedden's death. A spokesperson Wednesday said, "We are not going to comment. It's a settled legal matter."
Still, the family and supporters are asking the Jesuits to turn over any information they have to police and they are asking law enforcement to open a new investigation. "There's so many inconsistencies? Suicide jumpers don't land on their back. They land on their feet or their head. There's just so many questions," said Joelle Casteix with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
In a strange twist, the family says one of the last people to see Father Chevedden alive was Father Jerry Lindner. Lindner is the priest recently attacked by a man he's accused of molesting years ago. That man, Will Lynch, went to the parking garage Wednesday to support Chevedden's brother who is now offering a $5,000 reward for information. "Something's not right here and I believe that John's on to something and I hope he's going to find out what the truth is," Lynch said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the family at firstname.lastname@example.org.