Friday, December 12, 2008

Sister Norma Giannini: Early Release Denied

UPDATE, April 23, 2009: Norma Giannini Released

Forty years ago, Sister Norma Giannini "initiated sexual contact with each of [two] boys in the 1960s and continued sex acts repeatedly, sometimes at her house," when she was the principal of St. Patrick's grade school on Milwaukee's south side.

Giannini was sentenced to serve one year in the House of Correction for her crimes.

I thought that sentence was little more than a slap on the wrist. Prosecutors had recommended 8 years in prison.

Giannini had hoped to secure an early release. Today, that request was denied.


From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A judge today rejected an 80-year-old nun's request for early release from the jail term she's serving for having sex with two young boys while they were her students at her school more than 40 years ago.

Norma Giannini pleaded no contest to indecent behavior with a child and began serving a one-year sentence in the Community Correctional Center on Aug. 23. Milwaukee Circuit Judge M. Joseph Donald had sentenced her to five years in prison for each count but stayed the sentence and ordered her to serve the year in the county facility. Today, Donald turned down Giannini's request to be freed early.

Nikola Kostich, Giannini's lawyer, said the elderly woman had been taken to emergency rooms once a month, the last time being admitted for five days because of congestive heart failure. He said his client had lost 30 to 35 pounds during her incarceration because of the food at the facility and that he was "trying to save her life." He said the effort to get Giannini out of jail early was prompted by letters from her doctors.

Noting that Donald had also received a score of letters opposing Giannini's release, Kostich said:

"I'm a little concerned about the letters. My client is a pawn, in a sense, in a conflict between the archdiocese and these lay people."

Kostich was referring to efforts by a group known as SNAP -- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group has filed lawsuits and lobbied for legislative change in attempts to make the Archdiocese of Milwaukee accountable for covering up sexual abuse cases.

...Assistant District Attorney Paul Tiffin opposed the request, saying that Giannini had refused placement at the House of Correction medical facility in Franklin.

"She's getting the treatment she requires," Tiffin said in court.

Giannini is 80 years old. At her age, it's not surprising that she's having health problems.

If she's choosing not to eat the food at the facility, that's her problem.

She's receiving medical care.

I see no reason for her to be released early.

I think it's troubling that Giannini received such an extremely lenient sentence in the first place. Justice would not have been served by allowing her to be freed now.

I don't see Giannini as a pawn between the archdiocese and lay people.

Giannini is a sexual predator. She has to pay for her crimes. I don't think one year is too much.

Kostich says he's "trying to save her life."


I think Giannini will survive. She'll start eating once she realizes that she's being held accountable for her actions and no one is going to excuse her.

Giannini doesn't seem to understand that a court of law isn't like the Milwaukee archdiocese.

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