The preliminary hearing for Giles Schinelli, 73, Robert D'Aversa,
69, and Anthony Criscitelli, 61, on felony charges of endangering
the welfare of children and conspiracy is expected to last much of
the day at the Blair County Courthouse in Hollidaysburg,
Each is a former leader of the Franciscan Friars, Third Order
Regulars, Province of the Immaculate Conception based in
Hollidaysburg. Prosecutors accuse them of enabling the sexual
predations of Brother Steven Baker, a member of their order who
committed suicide in 2013.
"They acted to protect the institutions they led rather than the
children and family they served," according to the grand jury
presentment which recommended charges. "Moreover, they could have
prevented additional victims."
The grand jury heard evidence that Baker molested over 100 boys at
Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown, where he was an
athletic trainer, after telling the boys they needed massages for
Each defendant was accused of putting Baker in jobs where he had
contact with boys, despite knowing he was a pedophile, and of
failing to report him to police.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced charges against the three
last month after previously releasing a companion grand jury report
detailing decades of sexual abuse of children by priests in the
Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in west central Pennsylvania.
No prosecutions of individuals named in that report were possible,
Kane said, either because they had died or the statute of
limitations had expired.
[to top of second column]
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill
to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against
children. It would also retroactively extend from age 30 to age 50
the cutoff for child sex victims to file civil suits, and allow
governmental entities to be sued in cases of gross negligence.
The bill still requires approval by the Pennsylvania Senate.
Governor Tom Wolf will sign the bill if it reaches his desk, a
"We are going to go to the hearing and hear what the (prosecution)
has to say," said Robert Ridge, lawyer for D'Aversa. Lawyers for the
other two could not be reached for comment.
(Reporting by David DeKok; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Leslie
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.