Full-Court Mess

Admitted Mater Dei molester raising money for high schoolers

Admitted child molesters tend to live in shame, away from the scorn of a disgusted public. And they definitelytry not to invite more scrutiny by continuing to work in a youth-oriented business. Someone should share this advice with Jeff Andrade.

Andrade, you'll recall, is a former assistant coach of the powerful boys basketball program at Mater Dei High School. School officials dismissed him in 1996 after discovering allegations that Andrade slept with a 15-year-old student. Andrade denied the charges at the time, but confessed last year in a sworn deposition for a civil lawsuit filed by his victim against the Catholic Diocese of Orange (see "McKnight Errant," Dec. 21, 2006). The deposition also revealed that Andrade had found work with Arizona-based Varsity Gold, one of the country's premier high school fund-raisers, shortly after leaving Mater Dei.

It's not known whether Varsity Gold officials knew about Andrade's past upon hiring him, but at least one high-ranking executive in the company seems to be aware of it now—and appears not to care.

Jeff Andrade.
Jeff Andrade.

Last week, when Varsity Gold held its semi-annual national sales convention at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine, Andrade was one of the main attractions. Hundreds of Varsity Gold employees—almost all wearing the company's lanyards—roamed the hotel from meeting to meeting over three days.

Andrade is now a regional sales manager for the company. He hosted an all-day seminar on June 20 at the Hyatt's Crystal Cove meeting room, for sales representatives in what a Varsity Gold document described as the "Andrade Region" (believed to be the western United States). He rallied his reps in pitching Varsity Gold's fund-raising opportunities for high schoolers.

But when the group broke for lunch, it found a surprise outside the Crystal Cove room: a yellow flier describing Andrade's child-molesting past.

The fliers were printed and distributed by five members of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. SNAP was there to ask Varsity Gold President Lyle Black why the company still employed Andrade.

"It's a horrible message," SNAP member Joelle Casteix, herself the victim of an abusive Mater Dei teacher, said as she and other SNAP members stood outside the Hyatt on June 20. "Why they would allow an admitted child molester into their company is beyond me."

A blond woman sporting a beret approached Casteix. She was Varsity Gold's vice president of operations, Cherise Parsons. Burly men surrounded her. None of them looked happy.

"Excuse me, what are you doing here?" Parsons snapped at Casteix.

"We're trying to tell people about your employee, Jeff Andrade," was her reply.

"You're not educating anyone," Parsons shot back. "He's not in schools anymore." She paused. "What right do you have to be here?"

"He's a serious threat to children," Casteix said.

"Are you Christian people?" Parsons blurted out.

"What does that have to do with anything?" Casteix replied incredulously.

"People change. Jeff's changed. All that happened prior to him joining our organization."

"You hire child molesters?" Casteix asked.

"No," Parsons said. "What will you gain by this protest? Who will you protect?"

Suddenly, Hyatt security appeared, telling Casteix and the other SNAP members to leave the grounds or risk arrest. Triumphant, Parsons and her posse turned back to the hotel. She declined comment as they walked away.

As Casteix and the others retreated, Varsity Gold employees headed to the Hyatt's 6ix Park Grill. Many of them were clutching SNAP's yellow fliers.

GARELLANO@OCWEEKLY.COM

 
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