Ex-franciscan Friars Plead No Contest, Get Probation in Child-sex Coverup Case

By Matt Miller
May 4, 2018

Two former Franciscan Friars have been sentenced to probation after pleading no contest to child endangerment charges for covering up allegations that a member of their order molested more than 100 children.

Two former Franciscan friars from Altoona each have been sentenced to 5 years of probation after pleading no contest to charges that they shielded a member of their order who sexually abused more than 100 children.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Friday that Robert D'Aversa, 70, and Anthony Criscitelli, 63, entered their pleas to charges of endangering the welfare of children before being sentenced by Blair County Judge Judge Jolene G. Kopriva. The two also were fined $1,000 each.

The AG's office arrested D'Aversa and Criscitelli two years ago. Charges against a third defendant, former Friar Giles Schinelli, were dismissed on statute of limitations grounds.

All three men were charged with failing to properly supervise Brother Stephen Baker, who was accused of molesting children while working at a Johnstown Catholic high school in the 1990s. Baker later committed suicide.

Investigators said the friars knew of the child-sex allegations against Baker but didn't contact the police. The charges against D'Aversa and Criscitelli stemmed from a two-year grand jury investigation.

"These defendants knew the abuser was a serious threat to children, but they allowed him to engage with children and have access to them as part of his job within their order," Shapiro said. "They chose time and time again to prioritize their institution's reputation over the safety of victims."









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