Our Family Was Changed Forever after 5 of Our Children Were Abused by a Priest

By Ed and Pat Fortney
Morning Call
October 15, 2018

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg on Aug. 14, discusses the grand jury report of child sexual abuse in six Catholic dioceses in the state. With him on the stage are victims and members of his staff. (MICHAEL BRYANT / TNS)

When you realize that the whole dynamic and legacy of your family and grandchildren have been altered dramatically because of the actions of another, then and only then do you grieve the loss of what could have been.

Finding out that one of our daughters was abused was life altering for us.

Then years later, to find out that not only one but five of our children have been victims of a man we trusted ó the Rev. Augustine Giella, who served at St. John the Evangelical Church in Enhaut, Dauphin County, for 5? years in the 1980s ó it alters the very fabric of your family and your familyís legacy for years to come.

We have experienced grief at its lowest depth. How do you survive that? How do you come to terms with the guilt as a parent? How do you grasp the failure of protecting your own children?

We hold onto our faith in God that he will move the mountains in the minds of Pennsylvaniaís state senators. Right now they are our last hope.

The balance of justice for all victims lies in their hands. The day of the release of the state grand jury report (Aug. 14), we saw the pain of our childrenís abuse being forced back into the forefront on those pages.

As we sat with our daughters, we didnít see them as the adults everyone else saw, but as the children they once were. We were in awe of their strength! We want no one to have to endure the broken trust or broken innocence we saw on that stage and continue to endure as a family.

When we see the predators still living free among us, free in their daily lives, itís discouraging for our family and the health of our society. The church hasnít been cleaned; theyíve only promised prayer and forgiveness.

When will the real action occur? When will they take full accountability and stop guilting the victims and instilling fear in the congregation with bankruptcy?

We know this is not just a Catholic problem. This evil is infested in many institutions. Knowing that there are still perpetrators out there makes it very hard for us to sleep at night.

We know that what happened to our family can happen ó and is happening right now ó to others. We donít have all the answers, and we certainly donít intend harm or ill on any person or institution.

Our only hope is that this horrible ordeal that we have been through is not in vain and that change occurs.

Our girls are strong, yet their father makes his rounds daily to check on their well-being. They were raised to be fighters, but God help our family, the Catholic faithful and the community as a whole if the victims are re-victimized and the predators are protected once again.

We and our family ask for sweeping reform. We ask for justice for those who have lost their battle and as a result lost their lives because of the shame and re-victimization at the hands of their oppressors. We ask for justice for those who donít have a voice.

What would you do or how would you think if this was your child? Grandchild? Imagine for one minute.

Please stand with us as we ask for the statute of limitations with the 2-year window to be voted on for the sake of all abuse victims in and outside of the Catholic Church. They deserve their day in a court of law, they deserve to be free from the silence, and they deserve to be legitimized.

We as a family stand beside, and on the side, of the victims. Will you stand with us?








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