VERDICT: Former Jehovah’s Witnesses Elder Convicted of Sexual Abuse of 3 Children

June 6, 2024 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced that a Lancaster County jury has convicted a former Jehovah’s Witnesses elder of sexual abuse of three children more than 20 years ago.

Norman Aviles-Garriga was found guilty Wednesday afternoon of all 12 charges being tried, including aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, and endangering the welfare of children, following a three-day trial in Lancaster County.

Aviles-Garriga, 45, will be sentenced at a later date. At the verdict, a Lancaster County Judge revoked Aviles-Garriga’s bail and he was taken into custody.

The charges stem from the 49th Investigating Grand Jury and were filed and prosecuted by the Office of Attorney General. The abuse happened around 1999 and 2003 in Lancaster city.

“This defendant weaponized religion to gain community trust and proximity to abuse children, then took steps as an elder to have the victims discredited,” Attorney General Henry said. “The tenacity of investigators and the brave survivors of this abuse did not allow that to happen, and this predatory defendant is now held accountable.”

According to testimony, two of the victims reported the abuse to Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders. In meetings before the elders, Aviles-Garriga called the victims “demons,” and retaliated by using his position to delay their baptisms. Aviles-Garriga was expelled from the church for a period of months, then allowed back, according to testimony.

The victims later disclosed the abuse to counselors. The Office of Attorney General investigated and filed charges, following Grand Jury proceedings, in 2023.

The case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy Attorney General Angela Sperrazza.

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