In a first-of-its-kind case, prosecutors in Pennsylvania announced charges on Tuesday against three Franciscan friars who they say facilitated the abuse of dozens of children.
The First Order or the “Order of Friars Minor” are commonly called simply the “Franciscans”. This Order is a mendicant religious order of men, some of whom trace their origin to Francis of Assisi. Their official Latin name is the Ordo Fratrum Minorum. – Wikipedia
Prosecutors say that all three men knew about sexual abuse allegations against Brother Stephen Baker dating back to the 1980s but that the three friars continued to place Baker in jobs that gave him access to children, up until 2010.
Confronted with a lawsuit that made the accusations public, Baker killed himself in 2013, at age 62, in the monastery where he lived. On Monday, state prosecutors announced that three men who supervised him — Brothers Anthony M. Criscitelli, 61, Robert J. D’Aversa, 69, and Giles A. Schinelli, 73 — are each charged with one count of endangering the welfare of children and one count of criminal conspiracy.
“These men knew there was a child predator in their organization. Yet they continued to put him in positions where he had countless opportunities to prey upon children,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in a statement. “Their silence resulted in immeasurable pain and suffering for so many victims. These men turned a blind eye to the innocent children they were trusted to protect.”
Kane’s office also conducted an investigation into the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese in Pennsylvania which produced a damning grand jury report earlier this month. That report chronicled alleged abuses committed by 35 priests, dating to the 1950s, in wrenching detail. But it did not recommend charges against anyone. Most of the priests named in the report have died, and the statute of limitations has expired in some cases.
But when the grand jury turned its attention to friars based in Hollidaysburg, Pa. — the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regulars, Province of the Immaculate Conception — it found cause to charge three men who served in the same job in the organization, that of minister provincial. The minister provincial controls which friar works where, prosecutors said. So Criscitelli, D’Aversa and Schinelli were the ones who placed Baker in the jobs which he allegedly used as opportunities to molest children, for years.
Read the full article:The Washington Post