Sarnia Courthouse (BlackburnNews.com file photo by Dave Dentinger)

Former Priest Given 4 Year Prison Term

A man who served as a marriage and family counselor in Auburn and Kincardine is going to prison.

57-year old Gabriele DelBianco was a priest before becoming a counselor.  The sentencing in Sarnia today was in connection with a guilty verdict on sex-related charges against two teenage girls.  Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Donohue sentenced DelBianco to a total of four years in federal prison.

In February, DelBianco was found guilty of three of 18 charges against him relating to incidents involving four teenage girls during the 1980′s in southwestern Ontario when he was still a priest.

He received three years on each of the two sexual assault charges, which were to be served concurrently, and a further 12 months for gross indecency.

One of the complainants, who gave a victim impact statement, says the click of the handcuffs was one of the sweetest sounds she’s heard in a long time.

“I think we got four years, because we got a year for each one of us. The impact on my parents has been the hardest thing to watch. This process has really aged them and hurt them, my kids, my husband and taken years off of my life. I think the judge was fair and did what he could within the law,” says the woman.

Earlier in the morning, the woman told court what happened to her has left her without faith and it feels like being in a life boat without a paddle or rudders.

“With him in jail, I may feel safe. I want him to be forced to sit and think about what he has done,” she says.

“I regret deeply the hurts that I’ve caused. I hope that this trial will bring closure and I apologize,” the accused told the court. “I wish my present knowledge had existed when I was younger.”

“Society’s outlook on this type of behaviour is not new,” says Justice Donohue, who adds the case was a difficult matter. “There is no question my sentence will have an effect on Mr. DelBianco and his spouse. In deterring others, I’m sending a message from the court to religious leaders of youth.”

DelBianco left the priesthood in 1996 after serving at churches in Ontario communities including Wallaceburg and Windsor.