We learned earlier this month that a grand jury in Pennsylvania found that Church leaders in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese were responsible for the sexual abuse of hundreds of kids over several decades. Not only that, they interfered with police investigations into the matter.
While the statute of limitations has passed for most of those crimes, the same grand jury has now charged three Franciscan priests with “conspiring to enable a serial predator to sexually assault more than 100 Catholic high school students.”
It’s an unbelievable story in which all three men knew damn well what the problem was, but they did nothing to stop it. The crimes involved Brother Stephen Baker, who committed suicide a few years ago after nearly twenty years of abusing kids.
Who was responsible for this?
■ The Very Rev. Giles A. Schinelli, 73, who was minister provincial from 1986 to 1994 and allegedly assigned Baker to Bishop McCort High School despite a warning he should not have one-on-one contact with students;
■ The Very Rev. Robert J. D’Aversa, 69, who was minister provincial from 1994 to 2001 and allegedly removed Baker from Bishop McCort due to a credible allegation of sexual abuse but reassigned him to another ministry with access to youths.
■ The Very Rev. Anthony M. Criscitelli, 61, who has been minister provincial from 2002 to 2010 and allegedly continued to allow Baker unsupervised access to children.
None of the three, according to the charges, ever called law enforcement authorities about Baker’s predations.
It’s just the latest in a long line of Catholic priests behaving badly. At least this time, authorities can do something about it. It’s about damn time some of these priests are held accountable for their actions.
All three men live outside of Pennsylvania, but they’ll be arraigned very soon. I would love to see them spend the rest of their lives in prison. Though, to be fair, they deserve much worse.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Scott for the link)