FIVE sisters were sexually abused by the same US Catholic priest when one of them was just 18-months-old
The Fortney sisters were abused by Father Augustine Giella during the 1980s
He was a trusted family friend who would come round for meals and say grace
Patty, Lara, Teresa and Carolyn said he would bring them candy and clothes
Caroloyn just 18 months when abuse happened while fifth sister didn’t speak out
Father Giella charged with child sex crimes but died before he could face trial
One of hundreds of paedophile priests who’ve been unmasked across the USA
Five sisters from Pennsylvania were all abused by the same Catholic priest in the early 1980s when one of them was just 18-months-old, in the latest shocking example of child sex crimes in the US branch of the church.
The Fortney sisters, Patty, Lara, Teresa and Carolyn, said Father Augustine Giella would regularly give them gifts before attacks, one of which took place on 13-year-old Patty while her other three sisters looked on.
‘He was constantly hugging me in front of them, kissing me in front of them, trying to put his tongue in your mouth,’ Patty Fortney-Julius told CBS News. Lara was then 10, Teresa in first grade, and Carolyn one. Another sister chose not to speak out.
The Fortney sisters suffered horrific sexual abuse at the hands of their local Pennsylvania priest in the 1980s. Pictured from left to right: Carolyn Fortney, Teresa Fortney-Miller, Laura Fortney McKeever, Patty Fortney-Julius
Giella, their local pastor in Enhaut, was a trusted family friend who was often invited round for family meals, where he would say grace.
‘Even at our kitchen table things happened in front of my parents’ face that they couldn’t see,’ said Lara Fortney McKeever.
‘I would continually remind myself, ‘He’s my priest. He’s the mediator between God and man. This is okay,’ Patty Fortney-Julius said.
The abuse happened, Caroloyn said she only realized what going on when she turned 12. ‘I was watching a movie of a priest molesting altar boys and that’s kind of the day that I put it together,’ she said.
Giella retired from the church in 1989 but the Fortneys still saw him. Three years later, a relative found a box containing child pornography, including naked photos of Caroloyn.
The children’s parents, Ed and Patty, reported the photos to the Harrisburg diocese, while one sister called child services, which informed the police. Giella was charged with sexual assault and possessing child pornography, but died awaiting trial.
Although deprived of real justice, the sisters settled two civil lawsuits with the Harrisburg diocese.
The sisters said avoided talking about the abuse as adults, but decided to speak out three years ago to prevent the same happening to other children.
‘I believe that there’s going to be change,’ said Fortney-Miller. ‘I pray that there’s going to be change because nobody should live like this with this pain. Nobody should. It’s every day. But I have hope now. I do.’
Some 1,000 children are thought to have been abused by 300 predator priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses, according to a recent report. Forty-five of the priests named in a grand jury report served in the Harrisburg diocese.
Through his deception, and the great esteem he was held in as a priest of the Catholic Church,
The diocese said it sent its ‘deepest apologies and prayers’ for failing to stop the abuse.
Harrisburg Bishop Ronald Gainer was named in the report for failing to advocate the defrocking of an abusive priest. The diocese defended Gainer, saying he took swift action against that priest and another abusive priest after becoming bishop in 2014.
While acknowledging the church is faced with a ‘spiritual crisis,’ Gainer said most of the abuse happened long ago.
The diocese has taken ‘significant and effective measures to protect our children and remove any person who intends to do harm to them,’ he said.
The sheer number of children who were abused by Catholic priests in America has only recently started coming to light.
On Thursday, officials in New York, New Jersey and New Mexico announced investigations into how the church had handled abuse allegations. Missouri recently announced a similar investigation.
These cases always have the capacity to deeply shock. How any man or priest can abuse a child is nearly impossible to understand.
But imagine how horrific the sexual abuse of an 18 month old baby is?
This is real sickness and it is more shocking that the perp was a priest.
“If anyone hurts any of these my little ones it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea”
READER SENT US THIS JOKE
Arlene Foster – DUP