Band director guest on 'Between the Lines'

Sandusky Register Staff
Jan 19, 2014

Former Sandusky Central Catholic band and choir director Brian Panetta was our guest today on Between the Lines.

Click HERE to read more about Panetta's termination from the school

Panetta lost his job after nearly five years when he announced his engagement to Nathan David, a man he's been dating for about as long as he was employed with the school. The decision to let Panetta go created a firestorm in the community, with many St. Mary families supporting both Panetta and the school in a difficult circumstance. 

Register education reporter Alissa Widman was also a guest. 

The program, and previous "Between the Lines" segments, are always available HERE

Watch the program in the player below



To add to what you've written, a Catholic Priest will not perform a wedding if at least one of the participants is divorced w/o an annulment.

John Harville

...but said non-annulled remarried person can/does teach in SCCS? And the status IS known by members of the Board and fellow teachers.

59 you're misled. If the persons divorced w/o an annulment, the Priest will marry them.
And if said couple becomes Catholic after marriage, the Church recognizes the marriage - as it does ALL marriages of persons who join after marriage.

Even when the priest knows one or both have been sterilized, the Church still will recognize the marriage - without special dispensation.

non-annulled divorced Catholics are denied the Sacraments... but who is to know if they choose to go to a different church and continue taking the sacraments?

If same couple above becomes Catholic and brings along their children who were conceived through surrogacy, in-vitro or adoption, the children will be baptized.

It seems, Buckeye, you also may need to take some 'instruction'.


Just asking. This whole situation has been caused not because the fact he is gay but because he is getting married to another gay? So if he wasn't getting married he could still teach?

Alissa Widman Neese's picture
Alissa Widman Neese

Mikesee, as I understand it, and has Brian has explained it, a majority of the Sandusky Central Catholic School community knew he was gay and in a relationship with his now-fiancé. Yes, it didn't become an issue until he got engaged to be married, because that was considered a "public statement," which couldn't be disputed.

In this interview, Brian describes it as a "don't ask, don't tell" type policy upheld by the school.



Julie R.

Years and years ago my stepfather was kicked out of the Huron Catholic church but it wasn't because he was divorced and remarried. It was because he married my mother, who was divorced. I also know he never set foot in that church again and it didn't seem to bother him at all.


The diocese responded to the online petition by posting a clause of the so-called contract. "I understand that any violation of any section of this contract may result in termination of this contract and employment immediately.’ Now keep in mind that the legal wording is "may" and not "shall" or "will", which means that the school had discretion, which means that for the sake of the kids and continuity of the music program Mr. Panetta could have been kept employed at least until the end of the year. The "may" probably accounts for why certain violations of the contract are enforced while others are ignored. I know Mr. Panetta graciously had said that he is not going to sue, but I'm not sure if he knows that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati lost a lawsuit in federal court when it terminated an employee for violation of her employment contract. She was awarded monetary damages. State law is one thing, federal quite the other!

John Harville

The Diocese, by responding, just mooted its original statement that the issue was 'local' - which I've been saying all along was incorrect. All contracts are with the Diocese.
Mr. Panetta is not going to sue.
However, every member of the Diocese can plead standing to hold the Diocese accountable for the actions of its employees - witness the whole priest scandal which had plaintiffs other than direct 'victims'.
Since the Diocese now has inserted itself into the 'case', Mrs. Curtis and the local board may have control wrested from their hands.
And you are correct, the case would be filed in Federal District Court in Toledo.
You might want to check whether Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick of Toledo still is the Diocesan attorney.
Also Christopher Knight who is on the Board is an attorney.


The catholic church has the right to hire people who share their values. They were right to fire him

John Harville

Of course the Catholic Church has the right...
It also has the responsibility to act within Diocesan and federal law in is treatment of those people.

And we as parishioners - and citizens - have the right to challenge the Church and its representatives for their actions.

And especially those of us who pay tuition have rights to challenge them - and of course to remove our children from a school system who does not uphold the values of faith, hope and most of all love.

And then there are those of us who, as a group, account for about $100,000 in contributions...

And those of us who pay state taxes of which a cool half million is built into the SCCS budget.

Rusty of Sandusky

Anyone catch Matt's first series of questions? Upon learning that Brian Panetta grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina; Matt asks "That's where... the University of Virginia is?" Classic!

Matt Westerhold

The University of Virginia is in Charlottesville, Va., and the mention of Charlotte gave me a momentary slip. It happens, Rusty. 


Mr. Westerhold, this was difficult to watch. You were very unprepared and looked a bit foolish.
To Brian Panetta, you are handling this entire situation with a great deal of class. I wish the general public could do the same.
To the general public, please stop criticizing the school and the Catholic faith. The teachings in the bible were given to all of us, regardless of whatever denomination we may follow.

Matt Westerhold

I haven't watched the video. Perhaps it was an off day. 


Perhaps.... I just watched the 'video'. It was stilted, had you appeared to be prepared the ums, ers, etc...wouldn't have been present.


First of all THANK YOU to Matt Westerhold and Alissa for covering this story and allowing Brian to tell his side. I came to you one time Matt and criticized you once, severely you asked me to let you know when the paper got it right. You got it right. Brian Panetta I will miss you, what a mature class act you are, no one will fill your shoes or your place and in our hearts. I will never be able to walk into SCCS without a nasty feeling in my gut. SHAME, SHAME to you all.


Sugar, then I suggest you take you kids out! Do not let the door hit you on the way out!


... and they'll know we are christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they'll know we are christians by our love.

John Harville

Would that be your suggestion to all parents who are disgruntled?

I really think Melody should get on here quickly and disavow any such comment from you.

That attitude you just presented once was the mantra of the entire church... until millions of Catholics took them up on it. Have you not noticed fewer weekend masses; smaller attendance; less offerings?

Are you not aware of the Toledo Diocese's expensive "Catholics, Come Home" campaign? Have you not noticed the diminishing numbers of priests and religious? Are you not aware of 'circuit' priests who celebrate mass at two or three churches on weekends in parishes which now have parish administrators?

But thank you for the permission to cancel my pledges to the Church.


I suggest you worry about your own kids.


And who said I have kids there? I've seen a lot of assumptions here because my comments, not a one of you know anything about me yet you all have a critique. SMH


Umm Sugar you did you said you pay and you want Mr. Panetta there. Lol


Ummmm there are ways to be paying tuition and not have your own child/ren attending SCCS, aside from the fact that a large portion of collection monies from each Catholic Parish goes in support of the school. Your assumptions and remarks will not change any opinions on how the school handled the situation, I feel it was hypocritical and bigoted. In every instance here I have been attacked for expressing my opine and when I respond I am called "mean". Pffftt. This is my last post on the subject. The entire nation is aware, WaPo, Wa Times,Houston, Denver, Seattle etc covered the news, many TV stations also. It's even posted on Chelsea Clinton's FB page.

John Harville

She didn't say she pays tuition.
I pay. Whenever I'm in Mass (which will be even less) I drop money in the plate. I don't use an envelope and I don't ask for a statement so I can take a tax deduction because I believe my tithing is between God and me.

However, when I leave here I will be contacting the head of the Foundation to inform him to begin expecting a drop in one of his major contributions.

And I will be sure he and Melody know of your 'permission'.

John Harville

And still you stand by your statement that we who have concerns or disagreements should just leave the church?

Melody's gonna love this.

Donald Szpozors's picture
Donald Szpozors

I will continue to shake my head at those ignorant, pretentious community members. As previously stated, the communities of Sandusky and Fremont both have an overwhelming number of LGBT community members for such a "small town" area. Many, many, 'many' of these men are married, engaged or identify as 'straight' but continue to spew homophobic ignorance and hate. Things will not improve unless we openly discuss LGBT issues just as much as 'hetero' issues. Engage our children. Engage our community. And most importantly- educate and educate correctly. Eradicate the stereotypes and shame that the church associates with the LGBT lifestyle. Start the conversation today! Pry open those closet doors of Sandusky and Fremont! Pry open those closet doors at your churches! It is NOT a sin! Love is love. I wish nothing but endless success and kudos to this eloquent, talented young man and his partner with many blessed years ahead of them.


I feel a bit of Harvey Milk emanating from those last few lines...

Well played :)

John Harville

The people in those areas of which you speak would be amazed to know of the number of homosexual men - and women - in fully blest heterosexual-appearing and LOVING Catholic marriages, rearing delightful children they bore together (yes, folks, homosexuals can complete the heterosexual act, I'm told). They are in loving families. There also are surrogate and in-vitro children growing up in healthy Catholic homes, partaking of Eucharist, being confirmed in the faith.
As a catechist having completed lay ministry, I exhort all of us who realize what already is reality in our midst, to attempt to be understanding of these hardcore Catholics who once again are being shaken.
I too wish this couple joy and happiness... and children.


“It is NOT a sin!” - Nice try Satan!

So, it’s not enough that you are an unrepentant sinner, you encourage others to be trapped in their sinfulness also?

"For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error," (Rom. 1:26-27).

"...and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them," (Rom. 1:32).


What many Biblical scholars have determined is that Romans is taken from Paul's philosophy on unbridled passion. The focus of Paul's issue was pagan idolatry and temple sex rituals among heterosexuals. Sexual orientation, the idea of being attracted exclusively to a certain gender, was not discovered until 1900 A.D., so while same-sex behavior existed (almost exclusively pederasty or prostitution) it had nothing to do with homosexuals.