Sisters from one family talk about sexual abuse by priest

Grand jury report: One priest sexually assaulted, abused and molested five sisters in Dauphin County

  • Scott LaMar

Merideth Bucher, WITF

Teresa, Lara, PA Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm, Carolyn and Patty Fortney

Of all the stories to come out of the grand jury report on sexual misconduct by those associated with the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania last month, the one that got the most attention was that of five sisters from one family who were sexually assaulted, abused and molested by a priest in Dauphin County.

The report, released by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, found credible allegations that 300 priests and others associated with the Church had abused more than a thousand children over a 70-year period.

The Fortneys were devout Catholics who welcomed the Rev. Augustine Giella into their home on many occasions. The Fortney sisters’ parents were completely unaware that Giella was assaulting their daughters — sometimes even when they were in the room. The girls didn’t tell anyone about the abuse, including each other, until just a few years ago.

Giella eventually was charged related to allegations of sexual misconduct involving another girl, but died before he went to trial.

Lara, Teresa, Patty and Carolyn Fortney (their maiden name) discussed their years of abuse on WITF’s Smart Talk program.

Smart Talk is a daily talk program, hosted by Scott LaMar on WITF-FM, Harrisburg.

Key points in the program:

06:00 — Lara Fortney describes meeting Giella

15:19 — Patty Fortney talks about the abuse

45:05 — Fortneys say they’re very protective of their own children, and Teresa describes telling her son about the grand jury report

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