Sisters Try To Break Silence On Clergy Sex Abuse

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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Two sisters sought to nullify a confidentiality agreement their family made with a Pennsylvania diocese Monday to speak about clergy sexual abuse their siblings suffered.

The two sisters claimed in their lawsuit that their family members agreed to a confidentiality agreement in a settlement with Harrisburg Diocese over sexual abuse that Rev. Augustine Michael Giella reportedly committed against their other two sisters, according to The Associated Press.

Mike Barley, a spokesman for the diocese, said that the diocese no longer enforces confidentiality agreements and that nothing would prevent the family from bringing the abuse to light, but the sisters’ lawyer, Ben Andreozzi, said he wants that in writing. (RELATED: Australian Archbishop Resigns Over Refusal To Break Seal Of Confession For Sex Abuse Law)

“They force victims to enter into these confidentiality agreements, and it stunts the ability to identify who these perpetrators are,” Andreozzi said, according to AP. “And we obviously need to expose, the public wants to know who these accused priests and other bad actors are. And these confidentiality agreements aren’t helping.”

Giella, who died in 1993, confessed to fondling one of the girls and taking nude photos of her. Court records show that Giella started abusing one of the girls when she was two-years-old, fondling her, coercing her into posing nude in sexual stances for photos, and subjecting her to oral sex. He faced charges of child pornography, sexual assault, and child endangerment in Ocean County, New Jersey, at the time of his death.

All four sisters involved in the lawsuit to end the nondisclosure agreement also gave testimony before a grand jury that spent two years investigating instances of abuse, failure to report abuse, and related instances of obstruction of justice in six dioceses. The state’s supreme court has since temporarily halted the public release of the grand jury’s report in order to deal with legal challenges levied by individuals who are named in the report.

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