Sisters Testify About Abuse

Author: Lisa A. Davis (ldavis@tampatrib.com)
Date Published: 06/15/2005

NEW PORT RICHEY – The three sisters took the stand one by one throughout the day, clearly explaining the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch.”

They said family friend Gary Sabino, 47, gave them “bad touches” on their “privates” when they slept over at his Holiday home between October 2001 and January 2002.

Sabino – the girls call him “Sparky” – is being tried this week on two counts of sexual battery and two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation on a child under 12.

Sabino was arrested at Christ of the Hills Monastery in Texas in November by FBI agents. Pasco County Sheriff’s Office detectives had been searching for him for nearly two years after he posted bail when he first was arrested in the case in January 2003.

The three sisters say he molested them more than once when they visited him at 3426 Fairmount Drive.

The 12-year-old girl testified first Tuesday morning. Tears ran down her flushed cheeks as she entered Courtroom B.

Circuit Judge Joseph A. Bulone offered her a handful of tissues, but instead of grabbing one, she raised her right hand and pledged to tell the truth.

When prosecutor Eva Vergos asked the girl to tell the jury of five women and two men, including the alternate, what happened at Sabino’s house, the soon-to-be sixth-grader took a deep breath.

“One second,” she said, wiping her eyes, her face reddening.

“He would, um, touch my private parts,” she said.

Hours later, her 10-year-old sister, who seemed to have a bit more confidence, took the stand.

“He told us to go into the room and take off our pants,” she said. “He told us to go onto his bed.”

The sisters lay next to each other while Sabino sat on his bed with them, she said.

“He started touching us in our private spots,” she said.

While it was happening, no one said a word, the girl testified.

“After he was done, he said, ‘Don’t tell anyone. It will be our little secret,'” the middle sister recalled. “It made me feel all weird inside and freaky.”

Finally, it was the 8-year- old’s turn. The child climbed up onto the witness chair and sat on her knees. Often, she rested her chin on the witness desk.

“It was two times he did it,” she said of Sabino touching her. “One time we were in his computer room. The other time I was like laying down getting ready to go to bed.”

Her sisters weren’t in the room the first time, she said in a soprano voice. They were sleeping near her the next time it happened.

“Sparky gave me a bad touch on my front private,” she said. “He stuck his hand down my underwear.”

The trial resumes today. If convicted as charged, Sabino will face life in prison.

Reporter Lisa A. Davis can be reached at (727) 815-1083.