NEW ORLEANS — A Colorado jury found Timothy Gemelli guilty of six child sex-abuse charges Tuesday, marking the first significant punishment for a Slidell man who was accused of molesting 10 different girls in four states over the last 38 years.
Gemelli, 57, was convicted on five counts of child sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust and following a pattern of abuse. There was one count for each of the three women and two teenage girls who accused him of touching them inappropriately when they were little in Longmont, Colo.
There was also a count of aggravated incest for Gemelli touching his own daughter, Destiny Gemelli, now 22.
It was a far different scene in the Boulder County courthouse Tuesday than it had been in January, when a jury in St. Bernard Parish found Gemelli not guilty of aggravated incest for touching Destiny when they lived in Chalmette in the early 2000s, before the family moved to Colorado.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Sarah Johnson, 21, a childhood friend of Destiny’s who said Gemelli would bathe her, put lotion on her body after baths and touch her vagina. “I feel very thankful for the justice system here and that it didn’t fail us like it did in Louisiana.”
In an exclusive investigation in April, WWL-TV showed how St. Bernard Parish prosecutors failed to present key evidence at trial in January. Destiny said the prosecutors told her they didn’t need any more proof before the jury acquitted Gemelli.
At the Louisiana trial Gemelli was represented by Gary Wainwright, who questioned the credibility of Destiny and the other girls who came to testify on her behalf. In Colorado, Gemelli represented himself. Sarah Pfauth, whose daughters – Makayla, Jayden and Abi – were three of the abuse victims in the Colorado case and also testified in St. Bernard, said, “It was like night and day.”
“We’re thankful for the DA’s office here in Colorado for representing the girls so well,” Pfauth said. “They were very attentive and weren’t letting him bully the girls. I can’t even explain how different it was from Louisiana.”
Gemelli’s sentencing is scheduled for March 6. He told the judge he would need an attorney at sentencing.
The WWL-TV investigation showed how child abuse and molestation claims followed Gemelli around the country over four decades with hardly any repercussions. They started in 1981 when he was 19 and was arrested in St. Bernard Parish for a lewd and lascivious act with a 6-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to indecent behavior with a juvenile, got a six-month suspended sentence and no sex-offender registry existed at the time.
Allegations in the 1990s that he molested three different girls, including his first daughter, Ashley Petty, were recorded in court records in Massachusetts and lodged in sworn statements to police in Texas, but led to no formal charges.