Sisters seek to end gag order in priest sex abuse settlement

Associated Press

July 2, 2018

By Mark Scolforo

[See the complaint.]

Two sisters asked a judge Monday to invalidate broad confidentiality agreements other family members made with a Pennsylvania Roman Catholic diocese so they can speak publicly about sexual abuse at the hands of a parish priest more than two decades ago.

The lawsuit in county court in Harrisburg by two adult women said their silence was required in settlements made with the Harrisburg Diocese over sexual abuse of two other sisters in the same family by the Rev. Augustine Michael Giella.

New Jersey court records indicate Giella confessed to fondling one of the girls and taking photos of her unclothed. Giella was facing sexual assault, child endangerment and child pornography charges in Ocean County, New Jersey, when he died in 1993 at about age 72.

A spokesman for the Harrisburg Diocese, Mike Barley, said it no longer enforces nondisclosure agreements in priest abuse settlements.

“There’s nothing that would prevent them from speaking,” Barley said.

The four sisters’ lawyer, Ben Andreozzi, said he wants to get that in writing before the four women speak publicly about what they endured.

Andreozzi said all four women have appeared before a grand jury that spent two years investigating child sexual abuse in the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton, churches with 1.7 million members.

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