I met Mark Abinante when I was about 13 years old, at Redeemer OPC, a reformed church in Encino, California. He was our church pianist. Mark Abinante and his wife, Lia Abinante, had several children at that time who were around the same age as my younger sisters, so our families got together occasionally.
Since I loved playing piano, Mark Abinante taught me to play hymns and accompany at church. He was always very kind to me. He and Lia got me birthday gifts. I remember, one year, they got me a book for identifying rocks and gemstones, because that was a hobby of mine.
When I was maybe 14, I remember sitting on the church piano bench with Mark. If I recall correctly, this was after Sunday worship service, or possibly between Sunday School and worship. Everyone was socializing. No one was really paying attention to us. Also, it wasn’t odd to see me and Mark sitting so close on the little piano bench.
I remember feeling a little awkward about it, but I pushed the apprehension down, thinking that I should be ashamed to think Mark would do anything inappropriate.
But then he wrapped his arm around my waist.
I shuddered involuntarily, and he backed off. Things were awkward between us after that. He was stand-offish. This change in his behavior towards me confirmed in my mind that he knew he’d done something wrong.
So, I told my mom what had happened. Unfortunately, she chalked it up to Mark being an extremely outgoing and friendly guy, and maybe a little socially awkward. She didn’t believe me, so I never told anyone else.
Fast forward several years, my family had moved to Clear Lake, Texas. Mark Abinante and his family visited us after we moved, and we’d all gone to tour NASA together. For me, it was a very uncomfortable trip.
Not too long after, we got an email from our former OPC pastor, Lee Irons. Lee warned my parents not to let Mark Abinante near us kids, because Mark had sexually assaulted a child. We looked him up in a sex offender database, and sure enough, there was our church pianist. There was the man who had taught me to play piano during worship.
Here is Mark’s photo, and information about his conviction:
Today, Mark performs at churches and teaches children music lessons. According to his website, he will give you or your child piano lessons, singing lessons, and guitar lessons. You can visit their family website at www.abinantefamily.com.
Many sex offender databases no longer list Mark Abinante. In fact, the only listing I could find took a great deal of digging. I do not know why his listings are disappearing, but I am afraid for the many children who may be entrusted to him should their parents, church leaders, and teachers, not have access to this information.
So, this is my warning to all who read this: Mark Abinante has a criminal conviction for repeated chid sexual abuse. His criminal record will not show up in most sex offender databases. He was convicted in a California court of “Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child,” Statute 288.5(a). This was not a one-time offense. Please, protect your children.