Gabriele DelBianco on trial in Sarnia for sexual assault involving four girls

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The Sarnia Observer

Thursday, October 17, 2013 7:12:02 EDT PM

By Neil Bowen, Sarnia Observer

Three women testifying at the Sarnia Superior Court trial of a former priest on sexual charges said they routinely spent time alone with the charismatic priest.

Gabriele DelBianco, 57, is on trial for 16 sexual offences involving four women during the 1980s in southwestern Ontario. He has pleaded not guilty.

During the trial’s first day a woman in her 40s said DelBianco had made her feel special as a teenager and they had a sexual encounter.

On Thursday, two women in their 40s testified DelBianco told them they were mature for their years and sought to kiss them. One said DelBianco told her the Virgin Mary was 13 when she gave birth to Jesus.

For one, the kisses turned to fondling her in a parked car but the other woman testified she would move away when DelBianco tried to kiss her.

That woman said she did submit to his request to remove ingrown hairs from his genital area while he was lying naked on his bed.

The girl, who said she was around 14 when he made the request, had been routinely coming to his home at the church to do homework.

She followed his request not realizing it was wrong and left the residence feeling uneasy, she testified.

“I didn’t understand what my actual feelings were,” she said.

Another time she had gone with DelBianco to a Lambton Shores cottage for an overnight stay, with her parents’ permission.

They drank alcohol and she became tired and then paralyzed as DelBianco got on top of her while they were watching television. At that point her vision was blurry but she realized he was having intercourse with her.

“I felt myself trying to push him away but I couldn’t,” she said.

After that, she testified that nothing was said about the evening, although they continued a friendship for many years.

DelBianco officiated at her wedding during her 20s and counselled the married couple.

Under cross examination by defence lawyer Andrew Bradie the woman said she only remembered bits and pieces about the cottage incident until she was interviewed by police in 2011.

The woman rejected Bradie’s suggestion the reason she had no firm memory of it for 28 years was because it never happened.

The woman did concede she had been called by another woman in 2010 who was involved in a lawsuit against DelBianco.

She testified they never discussed their allegations against DelBianco.

The third woman, also in her 40s, testified she had met the charismatic pastor when she had just turned 15 and had looked up to him.

She would talk to him about her difficult times at home.

They started spending time alone and he kissed her. It started with kisses on the cheek and escalated to kisses on the lips and fondling.

She said that DelBianco told her he cared so much about her.

“I was 15 or 16, a love-struck girl,” she said, describing how their friendship had changed into a romantic relationship.

At the time DelBianco was 29. He left the priesthood in 1996 after serving at churches in Wallaceburg and Windsor.

The trial is set to continue into next week with testimony from a fourth woman and possibly DelBianco.

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