3 Feb 2008

Nun, 79, jailed for sexually abusing boys

Agence France-Presse on news.com.au

February 2, 2008

Chicago -

A 79-YEAR-old nun will spend a year in jail for sexually abusing two boys in the 1960s, US court officials said today.

Norma Giannani pleaded no contest to the charges of engaging in dozens of sexual encounters with the two boys some four decades ago.

The boys were 12 and 13 and she was a school principal at the time, local media reported.

At the sentencing a hearing today, one of the victims explained how Giannani's actions tortured him for much of his life and destroyed his faith, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"I was sure I was going to hell for defiling a holy sister," he told the Milwaukee County court. "What worse sin could there be? ... I've been suicidal ever since. I spent decades trying to escape it all through drugs and alcohol."

The abuse allegations emerged in 1992 but church officials did not report them to the authorities, the Tribune reported.

During an internal investigation by Catholic Church officials, Giannani admitted to sexually abusing three other boys.

A psychologist who interviewed her as part of the church investigation said in a subpoena that Giannani described the abuse as "kissing and petting."

When the panel asked her what she thought the boys thought about the encounters, she answered: "They were sowing their oats. How many teenagers would resist that opportunity?"

A criminal case was opened in 2005 after the two victims approached authorities.

Giannani, who had faced up to 20 years in jail, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the two counts. But the judge released her on probation which included a requirement that she serves a year in jail, court officials said.


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