Ex-Priest Gets Wish, Goes Back to Prison; Means He'll Rejoin His Family Sooner

By Michael Kiefer
Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
February 11, 2004

The defense attorney asked the judge to send his client back to prison. The prosecutor asked that he stay on probation.

It was a backwards day Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court, when a judge revoked probation for John Giandelone, the former priest and convicted child molester, and sentenced him to 22 months in prison, which is what Giandelone wanted.

Giandelone will be eligible for parole after serving 11 months of his sentence and will be able to return to his family in Florida. His probation would have required him to spend the next three years in Arizona with no chance of seeing his son.

"Your honor," Giandelone said when asked his intentions by Superior Court Judge Jonathan Schwartz, "with all due respects, I do not believe that I am able to comply with probation, and I ask you to please send me to prison."

Giandelone, 56, was released from prison in mid-December after serving half of an 11-month sentence for molesting an altar boy at a church where he was a priest in 1979.

It was his second conviction. In 1985 he pleaded guilty to child molestation and served a year in jail, after which he left the priesthood, moved to Florida, got married and fathered a son.

Giandelone pleaded guilty to molestation charges last spring and was sentenced to 22 months in prison on one count and up to three years probation on another. He thought he would be able to serve his probation in Florida while living with his wife and son, but when he was released in December, that state refused to accept the liability. When faced with the likelihood of spending three years in a halfway house in Arizona, away from his family and denied visitation rights with his son, Giandelone asked to be kept in prison. His request was denied.

As terms of his probation, Giandelone was ordered not to have contact with any minors, including his 12-year-old son.

On Jan. 29, he admitted to a probation officer that he had sent a Valentine's Day card to his son, and he was taken into custody. He was also charged with violating probation for having contact with a female minor, whom his attorney said was just someone in the same waiting room as Giandelone while he was waiting to meet with a probation officer.

"That's the nonsense he's been living with," said the attorney, Michael Terribile.

The county's Adult Probation Department alleged that Giandelone had intentionally violated probation.

"Give him prison time," Terribile told the judge. "Let's get it over with."

Cindi Nannetti, deputy county attorney for Maricopa County, and head of the County Attorney's sex crimes bureau, asked that the judge keep Giandelone in jail long enough to evaluate his risk as a possible repeat sex offender before deciding whether or not to revoke probation. When the judge balked, she said, "We're letting the defendant run the show here."


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