The London Free Press
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 6:04:34 EDT PM
A woman in her forties testified about her “rough and weird” teenage sexual involvement with a former Catholic priest during a Sarnia Superior Court trial Wednesday.
Gabriele DelBianco, 57, has been charged with 16 sexual offences involving four women during the 1980s in southwestern Ontario.
The trial started Wednesday with the first witness testifying she met DelBianco at church when she was 12 and he seemed like a rock star.
The charismatic DelBianco drove a sports car, wore flashy clothes and gave entertaining sermons that left her idolizing him, said the woman.
“I was in awe of him,” she testified.
She is one of four alleged victims. DelBianco was charged in 2011 with offences involving the girls that allegedly occurred between 1981 and 1987. He left the priesthood in 1996 after serving at churches in Wallaceburg and Windsor.
She testified that DelBianco asked her to help him with his church work, including a youth group where she was a participant and helper, she said.
When she was 15 they went for an overnight visit to a Lambton Shores cottage with her parents’ consent. DelBianco had been a frequent dinner guest at her family’s home.
At the cottage, DelBianco gave her alcohol and they showered together. On the bathroom floor she performed oral sex on him and he digitally penetrated her vagina in what she described as “rough and weird” sex.
In cross-examination the woman agreed with defence lawyer Andrew Bradie’s suggestion the sexual encounter was consensual but she added the phrase consensual as you can be while intoxicated.
The woman rejected the suggestion the encounter had happened while she was attending university.
During the relationship that lasted until she was 19 or 20 she had mixed feelings. She was apprehensive but cared for him. She testified she felt special he had chosen her.
DelBianco said he loved her and treated her like a confidant, which included telling her he was a CIA spy, said the woman.
At the time she believed these “magnificent stories” because he spoke many languages, disappeared for periods of time, always had more money than he should, as well as cars, she testified.
“It made sense to me . . . There are spies why not him,” she said.
The relationship went from a surprising kiss when she was 14 that left her crying to sexual intercourse when she was a university student. The last contact with him occurred at her wedding in the 1990s.
At that time he appeared nervous and the woman said perhaps he realized the jig was up.
Within a year she went for counselling and years later started a lawsuit and in 2011 contacted police leading to DelBianco’s arrest.
The woman rejected Bradie’s suggestion that she believed the criminal case would help her lawsuit.
The trial is expected to continue into next week.