In a first-of-its-kind case, three former Catholic leaders were charged Tuesday in Pennsylvania with conspiracy and child endangerment for enabling a known sexual predator friar to continue sexually abusing over 100 children until 2010. Prosecutors said the late Friar Stephen Baker repeatedly said he was “treating” boys as an athletic trainer, that he was untrained to do. He would grope their genitals and penetrate them with his finger. The indictment is a major victory over Catholic leaders’ culture of silence about its child sexual abuse crimes.
Giles Schinelli, 73; Robert D’Aversa, 69; and Anthony M. Criscitelli, 61, were successively the provincial ministers of the Franciscan religious order of the Roman Catholic Church in western Pennsylvania from 1986 to 2010. In that role, each assigned and supervised the order’s members.
“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.”