Former Jehovah’s Witnesses Elder Convicted of Child Sexual Abuse in Lancaster County

Court News

HARRISBURG, PA — A jury in Lancaster County has convicted a former Jehovah’s Witnesses elder, Norman Aviles-Garriga, of sexually abusing three children over 20 years ago. The verdict was delivered Wednesday afternoon after a three-day trial.

Aviles-Garriga, 45, faced 12 charges, including aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, and endangering the welfare of children. He was immediately taken into custody after a Lancaster County Judge revoked his bail.

The charges were brought by the Office of Attorney General following findings from the 49th Investigating Grand Jury. The abuse occurred between 1999 and 2003 in Lancaster city.

Attorney General Michelle Henry commented on the case, stating, “This defendant used his religious position to gain community trust and then abused children. He also took steps to discredit the victims using his authority.”

Testimony revealed that two victims reported the abuse to Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders. During meetings with elders, Aviles-Garriga labeled the victims as “demons” and delayed their baptisms as retaliation. He was temporarily expelled from the church but later reinstated.

The victims eventually disclosed the abuse to counselors, leading to an investigation by the Attorney General’s office. Charges were filed in 2023, following the Grand Jury’s proceedings.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Angela Sperrazza prosecuted the case. Sentencing for Aviles-Garriga will occur at a later date, bringing closure to a decades-long pursuit of justice for the victims.

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