Minneapolis pastor charged in Pennsylvania abuse cover-up

A Minnesota pastor is one of three Catholic officials charged Tuesday for their roles in an alleged cover-up that allowed more than 80 victims to be sexually abused in Pennsylvania. Father Anthony Criscitelli, 61, is currently at St. Bridget’s Parish in north Minneapolis.

The others indicted Tuesday are Giles Schinelli, 73, and Robert J. D'Aversa, 69. All three men are charged with one count each of endangering the welfare of children and 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."

According to the indictment, Criscitelli, D'Aversa and Schinelli were members of a panel that had “total control over the assignment of personnel within the organization.” The attorney general said that means they officially assigned “proven child predator” Stephen Baker to Bishop McCort Catholic High School for 8 years. Baker is accused of molesting more than 80 children at the school between 1992 and 2010, when he worked as an athletic trainer.

Statement from SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

We are grateful that three Catholic officials who enabled a serial predator to assault 90 kids are being criminally charged. Those who commit clergy sex crimes are sometimes charged. But those who conceal those crimes are rarely charged. One of them is in the Twin Cities.

We hope these charges will prompt more victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to come forward, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing. Now is no time for complacency. These complicit church officials will no doubt get top notch lawyers and try desperately to exploit any and every legal loophole to evade conviction. So it’s crucial that others with suspicions about or knowledge of wrongdoing by Franciscans step forward.

We also hope these charges will bring sorely-needed attention to religious orders. These Catholic groups are often even more reckless, callous and deceitful in clergy sex abuse cases than bishops are.

We strongly suspect that many more Franciscans knew of and ignored or hid Br. Baker’s crimes. We hope that some of them can be charged too.