Seven "Child Predators" Listed in Grand Jury Report
By Marielena Balouris
We Are Central
March 15, 2016
Three Franciscan Friars are accused of allowing the sexual abuse of more than 100 children at Bishop McCort High School.
The charges stem from the investigation in to allegations against Brother Stephen Baker -- who committed suicide in 2013 after he was accused.
Investigators say his supervisors knew he was a child predator -- and intentionally concealed his crimes from police and school administrators. Giles Schinelli, Robert D'Aversa and Anthony Criscitelli now face felony charges. That's because the statute of limitations in this case have not expired. The Attorney General said these men took a vow of silence, and allowed baker to molest more than 100 children.
Kathleen Kane, PA Attorney General, said, "We cannot stress enough the importance of holding those who treat and abuse our children accountable for what they've done."
These new charges come just two weeks after a Grand Jury report detailed a cover-up inside of local Catholic churches. According to this latest Grand Jury report, the Franciscan Friars at the Province of the Immaculate Conception had "considerable experience in handling members of the order...who faced allegations of sexual child abuse."
The grand jury report details seven predators -- and all but one are deceased. One of the friars, Adalbert Wolski, was listed as sexually abusing three boys while serving at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Altoona. Wolski was roommates with Brother Stephen Baker -- and even celebrated mass at Bishop McCort High School when Baker retired from teaching. Both Baker and Wolski were placed under "safety plans" while Criscitelli was in charge.
Kane said, "Schinelli, D'Aversa, Criscitelli engaged in efforts to protect image and reputation of Franciscan Friars rather than act in best interest of children that they served."
Attorney Richard Serbin fought 88 claims in the Brother Baker case, winning $8 million for his clients. He says these charges will help bring closure. He said, "Just learning that there is some criminal punishment I think will give some feeling of satisfaction that their cries have now been heard."
On Tuesday, Kane said that this is an open investigation -- and she is is urging other victims to come forward. "This is not about Catholicism, this is about the law and people standing up for other people," said Kane. She's also pushing lawmakers to act and abolish the statute of limitations on sexual assault claims.
But that's easier said than done.
"I'm sure the financial interests of the Church are a large part of what they are considering in opposing the extension of both the criminal and civil statute of limitations," said Serbin.
The three Franciscan leaders are living out of state and they have until Friday to surrender to police. The Attorney General cleared the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and Johnstown Police of any wrongdoing.
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