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Nun, 79, sentenced to 1 year in jail for sexual assault

Abused teens when principal 40 years ago

Email|Print| Text size + By Dinesh Ramde
Associated Press / February 2, 2008

MILWAUKEE - A 79-year-old nun was sentenced yesterday to one year in a county jail for sexually abusing two teens when she was their principal four decades ago.

Sister Norma Giannini avoided a trial by pleading no contest in November to two felony counts of indecent behavior with a child.

"I ask forgiveness from the bottom of my heart," she told Circuit Judge M. Joseph Donald at her sentencing.

One of Giannini's accusers, James St. Patrick, 55, asked Donald to impose a longer sentence. After the hearing, he said he was angry.

"When are we going to start dealing with female rapists and give them the same sentence as male rapists?" he asked.

In addition to the year behind bars, Giannini was ordered to serve 10 years of supervised probation. She has 60 days to report to jail.

The other accuser, Gerald Kobs, also 55, sobbed as he told the judge the abuse left him suicidal and emotionally withdrawn.

"I'm just glad it's over," he said after the sentencing.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault, but the two men said they wanted to speak out. They told authorities they had dozens of sexual encounters with Giannini, including intercourse, while attending St. Patrick's School in Milwaukee during the 1960s, according to a criminal complaint. Giannini taught eighth grade and served as principal at the school.

Donald urged Kobs and St. Patrick to sit down with Giannini and confront her with the emotional trauma she caused.

But St. Patrick bristled at the idea of a face-to-face meeting. "She hasn't called me for 40 years, she raped me, and now I'm supposed to call her and hang out with her," he said.

A psychologist told prosecutors in 2006 that Giannini identified four other victims to an Archdiocese of Milwaukee panel. The three were in Milwaukee and one was in Chicago, where she worked before and after her time in Wisconsin, the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday.

No charges in those cases have been filed.

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