Three American Franciscans charged in alleged abuse cover-up

A US grand jury report released this week indicted three Franciscan friars for alleged mishandling of members of the order who were accused of child sexual abuse dating back to the 1960s.

Charged for endangering the welfare of children and criminal conspiracy were Giles A. Schinelli, 73, Robert J. D’Aversa, 69, and Anthony M. Criscitelli, 61.

All three served as provincial superiors of the Franciscan friars.

“These men knew there was a child predator in their organization,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

“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 added.

The attorney general said the the Franciscan superiors did not report any allegations against its members to police, choosing “silence over children’s safety.”

On March 1, a 147-page grand jury report said at least 50 priests and religious leaders within the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese in the United States had committed child sex abuse and several diocese leaders had reportedly worked to keep the allegations under wraps.

The charges against the Franciscans represent one of the broadest-ever drives to hold Roman Catholic higher-ups to account in any American criminal court for the sexual abuse of minors by those under their supervision. And they’re the first religious-order superiors to face such charges.

To date, only a Missouri bishop and a Philadelphia monsignor have been convicted of cover-up-related charges, with the latter on appeal.

The Franciscan friars issued a statement saying they were “deeply saddened” by the news.


The Wall Street Journal
WCBC Radio
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Image: AP/The Wall Street Journal

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