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John Bollard (born 1965) is a former seminarian that filed a lawsuit in federal court against the California Province of the Society of Jesus (a.k.a. the Jesuit Order) and four other defendants. In 1999, after a successful appeal, Bollard won the right to have his case heard in open court, blurring the lines between the separation of church and state. The case never went to trial, being settled out of court for an undisclosed sum in 2000.
Born in Indio, California, Bollard was raised in nearby Bakersfield. He attended Catholic schools through elementary and high school, entering St. John’s Seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles immediately after.
After spending two years in the seminary, Bollard left, returning to Bakersfield to complete his Bachelors of Philosophy at California State University, Bakersfield. Following his undergraduate work and his ruminative circus tour with the Royal Lichtenstien Circus, Bollard resumed his journey to the priesthood, joining the Society of Jesus in the California Province of the Jesuit Order.
During this stint, he traveled and worked around the world, giving retreats in the Philippines, consulting in Hong Kong and working with activists in war-torn El Salvador. Back home in the regions of California, he worked in an East Los Angeles juvenile hall, a shelter for battered women and a convalescent hospital; four years of Bollard’s training were spent teaching philosophy and ethics at a Jesuit Prep School in Northern California.
In 1994, he began his final stage of preparation for ordination by pursuing a Masters degrees in theology and education.
Three years later, Bollard filed a lawsuit against the Jesuits, claiming rampant sexual harassment on the part of his superiors. The claim drew widespread local and national media attention, culminating in the form of a lead story on the CBS program “60 Minutes.”
On the program, Bollard alleged that he repeatedly found himself on the deflecting end of one physical advance or another; even regularly receiving pornographic cards and notes signed by his mentors and teachers.
Bollard now lives in Los Angeles, where he is a senior administrator at the University of California at Los Angeles, and continues his commitment to and involvement in the Catholic Church.