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Ex-Priest Admits to Sex Abuse

January 10, 2003|From Associated Press

PHOENIX — A former Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing a teenager more than 20 years ago, and agreed to cooperate in a probe of alleged misconduct and cover-ups within the Phoenix Diocese.

John Maurice Giandelone pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual conduct, and a third count was dismissed. He was ordered held without bond until sentencing Feb. 7. Giandelone served a six-month jail sentence for abusing another youth in 1984.

As part of a plea agreement, Giandelone promised to cooperate with Maricopa County prosecutors investigating how much Bishop Thomas O'Brien knew about alleged abuses, and whether he advised families whose children said they were abused not to contact police.

O'Brien has acknowledged that about 50 priests, former priests and church employees have been accused of criminal sexual misconduct with minors in the diocese during the last three decades.

He has vowed to cooperate with authorities, but has declined to discuss the investigation publicly, citing grand jury secrecy laws.

Giandelone, 55, was arrested Dec. 3 in Fort Myers, Fla., and extradited to Arizona. He was accused of molesting a 16-year-old boy while he was a priest at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Phoenix.

The victim, now 39, told authorities about the molestation after other alleged priest abuse victims came forward in recent months.

Authorities said Giandelone was transferred to St. Mary's church in Chandler in the 1980s and that he sexually abused another 15-year-old boy there.

Court records show Giandelone spent six months in jail in that case, left the priesthood in 1992 and eventually moved to Florida, where he registered as a sexual offender in 2000.

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