Franciscan Leaders in Baker Abuse Case Waive Arraignments
June 3, 2016
All three priests charged in the Brother Stephen Baker child sexual abuse scandal waived their formal arraignments that were scheduled for Friday at Blair County Courthouse.
No actual in-court proceedings took place.
The Revs. Giles A. Schinelli, 73; Robert J. D’Aversa, 69; and Anthony M. Criscitelli, 62, face felony charges of conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children. Earlier, in March, they pleaded not guilty during a preliminary arraignment and each were set free on $75,000 unsecured, supervised bail by Blair County Magisterial District Judge Paula Aigner.
They were then held over for trial following a preliminary hearing.
“This was simply another step in the process,” Jeffrey Johnson, assistant press secretary for the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, wrote in an email.
“We expect the case will now enter a phase where pre-trial hearings are held and pre-trial motions are filed.”
The attorney general's office alleges the former ministers provincial of the Third Order Regular, Province of the Immaculate Conception gave Baker assignments in which he was around children – or could have potentially had access to children – even though allegations of child sexual abuse had been made against the friar.
Baker formally served at what was then called Bishop McCort High School from 1992 until 2000 and maintained unofficial access afterward, a time period during which he is alleged to have sexually abused maybe more than 100 children.
“Baker was a monster, and I think the TORs knew it,” Bob Hoatson, a former priest and co-founder of Road to Recovery, a nonprofit organization that supports abuse victims, said during a telephone interview.
Hoatson continued: “It's just appalling that men who were making the decisions were doing it for the protection of the order and the man and not the children who were suffering.”
Criscitelli's attorney, James Kraus, respectfully declined to comment on the matter. Lawyers representing Schinelli and D'Aversa did not immediately respond to requests for interviews.
The next scheduled formal step in the process is a preliminary conference on June 27.