Category Archives: Fr Tom Brennan
from the link: http://www.dailymail.com/News/201204180090
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A witness in a clergy sex-abuse trial in Philadelphia testified that he was sexually assaulted in a home owned by West Virginia’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Bishop Michael Bransfield, and said he was told by his abuser that Bransfield had assaulted another boy.
The 48-year-old witness was on the stand Wednesday when he gave the testimony about Bransfield.
The man was testifying in a criminal trial against Monsignor William Lynn, who is accused of covering up sex abuse allegations for the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Bransfield has not been charged with a crime.
The testimony came one day after news reports that prosecutors were having trouble getting Monsignor Kevin Quirk, Bransfield’s aide, to testify.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington said Tuesday that Quirk had agreed to testify in Philadelphia but had to notify Bransfield first. Then the process stalled.
The witness told the jury he saw Bransfield bring several boys to a farm owned by Stanley Gana, a former priest in the diocese, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The witness told the jury the alleged incident occurred at Gana’s Scranton, Pa., farm more than 30 years ago. He was building a flagstone wall when then Rev. Bransfield pulled up in a car with several teenage boys.
The man said Gana told him Bransfield was having sex with one of the boys.
The 68-year-old Bransfield, a Philadelphia native, was installed as the head of the West Virginia diocese in 2005, replacing Bishop Bernard Schmitt, who retired in 2003.
Bransfield came to this state from his position as the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Bryan Minor, spokesman for the diocese, said that Bransfield was not available Wednesday and that he had yet to speak with him about the allegations.
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is learning of media reports originating from legal proceedings underway in Philadelphia, and Bishop Michael Bransfield’s name was brought up in court today,” Minor said in a statement.
“Until such time that the facts and issues surrounding this testimony are made fully known to the Diocese, we cannot comment at this time.”
The diocese on Tuesday called the trial a “circus” and said Philadelphia prosecutors were trying to smear people who have never been charged with a crime.
Monsignor Edward Sadie, rector of the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston, had not heard about the testimony concerning Bransfield Wednesday.
“I just find this beyond belief,” Sadie said. “I just hope and pray it’s not true.”
Sadie said Bransfield has been “very diligent” in keeping church officials and parishioners looking out for “deviant behavior” involving children at the church.
He said all church officials and the parishioners who work with children are taught what to look for and are made aware of how and where they should report abuse.
“We have a very strong policy,” Sadie said. “He’s been very diligent in pushing that policy.”
The witness told the jury Gana raped him for years and that Gana and Bransfield were close friends. He said Gana once sexually abused him during a visit to Bransfield’s New Jersey beach house.
Another witness testified that Bransfield had a lewd conversation with him.
Bransfield was ordained in 1971 by the late Cardinal John Krol. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gana was ordained about the same time.
The testimony comes four weeks into the prosecution of Lynn, who is the first U.S. church official ever to be charged over the handling of abuse complaints. Lynn served as the secretary for clergy in Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004 and supervised more than 800 priests.
Prosecutors alleged that Lynn allowed dangerous priests to work with children in the parish to protect the church’s reputation.
The church also is accused of keeping secret files dating back to 1948 that allegedly show a long-standing conspiracy to protect priests and cast doubt on sex-abuse victims.
Lynn’s attorney maintained that Lynn’s job was to oversee the sex abuse complaints but that another man, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who has since died, solely determined priest assignments and transfers.
If convicted, Lynn could serve 28 years in prison.
The other defendant in the trial is the Rev. James Brennan, who is accused of raping a 14-year-old boy in 1996.
Quirk’s testimony was sought because he served as a judge for the church’s in-house trial of Brennan in 2008. Prosecutors wanted him to testify about the accuracy of statements Brennan made during that trial.
Defrocked priest Edward Avery was the third defendant in the trial but pleaded guilty early on. Lynn and Brennan both pleaded not guilty.
Avery’s plea acknowledged that he was kept in the ministry despite an earlier complaint, for which he underwent therapy. He sexually assaulted an altar boy seven years later, he said.
Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina agreed to take up the matter with court officials in Wheeling.
Bransfield has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in divinity from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania. He served as assistant pastor at St. Albert the Great Parish in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., from 1971 to 1973. He received a master of philosophy degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1973.
He served as a teacher, chaplain and then chairman of the religion department at a Catholic school in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
He currently serves as president of the Papal Foundation of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and is the treasurer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bransfield also is a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.
An official with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on Bransfield to address the allegations Wednesday.
Judy Jones, Midwest director of SNAP, said that in light of the day’s testimony, Bransfield, not his lawyer or representative, should address the allegations immediately. She also wants him to agree to be questioned on the allegations.
“This isn’t rocket science,” Jones wrote. “For starters, there are three simple questions Bransfield should answer: Did or does he own a house with Philly’s Father Gana? If so, did he take boys there? And did he molest any of them?
“This notion that Bransfield somehow can’t respond to the testimony today in Philly, as his lawyer claims, is bogus.”
Jones also took issue with Bransfield’s apparent refusal to send Monsignor Quirk to Philadelphia.
“Msgr. Kevin M. Quirk has a sworn obedience to Bransfield,” Jones wrote. “Bransfield can order Quirk to appear in court. Bransfield should do that immediately. If he doesn’t, that will only add to the doubts about Bransfield.”
Founded in 1988, SNAP is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. It has more than 12,000 members.
Gerald T. Slevin, Update–Criminal Charges of Vatican Child Abuse Cover-Up
Monday, April 16, 2012
Cross-posted on Open Tabernacle, 16 April 2012.
From the link: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/147586455.html
Witness: Priest plied me with booze, molested me
By Joseph A. Slobodzian
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Philadelphia Catholic clergy sex-abuse trial began its fourth week this morning with testimony by a former Philadelphia man who told of being plied with liquor and sexually molested by his parish priest in a King of Prussia hotel room.
The 50-year-old man, who grew up in Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Andorra, told the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury about an incident when he was in the seventh grade.
The Rev. Thomas J. Smith had offered to take him and another boy on a trip to Hershey Park, driving a recreational vehicle borrowed from the second boy’s parents.
But the RV got no farther than King of Prussia, the man testified, when Smith said the vehicle had mechanical problems and they would have to stay overnight in a nearby Holiday Inn.
There the two boys spent the afternoon playing cards with their pastor, drinking Southern Comfort liquor and sodas.
Later that day, the man testified, Smith began chasing them around the room putting ice cubes down their underwear. When it came time for bed, the man continued, Smith told them to sleep naked because their clothes were wet.
While his friend slept on the floor, the man testified, he slept in bed with Smith and quickly fell asleep because of the alcohol he drank.
The man said he awoke on top of Smith – who was also naked – and realized they both had erections. When Smith saw that he was awake, the man continued, the priest pushed him to the other side of the bed.
The man said he went back to sleep and told no one until the incident became part of the 2005 report of the Philadelphia County grand jury report about the cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” asked Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington.
“I asked myself that question for years,” the man replied. “I think I was more afraid of getting in trouble. I was brought up to respect my elders and figures of authority.”
Though Smith continued to visit his parents and five brothers, the man testified, he withdrew from contact with the priest, whom he said enjoyed wrestling with his brothers in the basement of their house.
In questioning the man, defense attorney Jeffrey Lindy elicited the fact that the man did not come forward to authorities until 2004 – two years after Msgr. William J. Lynn, one of the two clerics on trial, left his job as the Archdiocese’s chief investigator of wayward priests.
Though not criminally charged in the 2005 grand jury report, Smith was left in his parish two years after Archdiocesan officials learned of the abuse in 2002. Two years later, after additional allegations of abuse arose, Smith was removed from active ministry.
Like most prior victims of clergy sexual abuse mentioned during the trial, Smith was not directly involved with the two clerics on trial. Rather, prosecutors have been permitted to bring in other cases to try to prove to the jury their theory of a long practice in the Archdiocese of ignoring or covering up after priests accused of sexually molesting children.
Lynn, as secretary for clergy, was responsible for investigating allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against priests. He is the first church official criminally charged with enabling or covering up such allegations against Catholic clergy.
Lynn’s codefendant, the Rev. James J. Brennan, is charged with attempting to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996.
Both have denied the allegations.
The Catechism offers a clear moral teaching: “Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.” (no. 2356)
The current Pope on Child Rape and Child Porno,21 December 2010 :
In his traditional Christmas address yesterday to cardinals and officials working in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also claimed that child pornography was increasingly considered “normal” by society.
“In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the Pope said.
“It was maintained — even within the realm of Catholic theology — that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a ‘better than’ and a ‘worse than’. Nothing is good or bad in itself.”
I DON’T THINK THE POPE HAS EVER READ HIS CATECHISM.
Los Gatos Priest Beating Case Trial Date Now Changed to June
Pretrial motion Friday postponed until May 3, with jury selection taking place May 14 and presentation of evidence June 19.
By Sheila Sanchez April 7, 2012
Friday’s scheduled pretrial motions in the case against a San Francisco man accused of beating a priest at the Los Gatos Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in May of 2010 have been postponed until 9 a.m., May 3.
William Lynch, 44, has been arraigned on one count of felony assault with intent to cause great bodily injury and one count of elder abuse under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm or death. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The scheduled hearing was changed since presiding Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge David Cena is tied up with a homicide trial that is running longer than expected.
The pretrial motions hearing, a time for any legal issue that will arise during the high-profile trial to be addressed by the prosecution and the defense, will be followed by jury selection May 14
The presentation of the evidence is expected to start on or around June 19, instead of the earlier reported date of May 29, said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Gemetti.
Jury selection will be performed using jury questionnaires with potential jurors being called in to court and given the document to fill out and then reviewed by the attorneys.
Counsel will then meet and discuss which jurors need to be questioned for so-called “cause,” necessary in every trial to weed down the full veneer of potential jurors to the 12 jurors and alternates who will sit on the case, explained Gemetti.
Attorneys will question the jurors for any biases or any impediments to sit for “cause,” such as someone having been convicted of a similar crime or who may have a family member working in the DA’s office or law enforcement and their objectivity is compromised.
After the panel has been passed for cause, meaning there are no legal reasons why the jurors can’t sit on the case, each attorney will have 10 pre-emptory challenges that can be exercised and they’ll go back and forth to determine which jurors will be sworn in, Gemetti added.
The proceedings are taking place in Judge Cena’s courtroom, department 34 of the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice in San Jose.
“Once we’ve sworn the jury in … we’re going to stick to that schedule to the best of our abilities,” Gemetti said about the delays in the trial start date. “Obviously trials are fluid and things may change and emergencies do happen, but … once we have those 12 people and they’re told the dates, things won’t change too much.”
The questionnaire presented to the jurors will probably be several pages long containing a list of questions and topics, some inquiries from the court and some submitted by the defense and the prosecution.
Lynch is being represented by Pat Harris and Mark Geragos, with the Los Angeles-based law firm of Geragos & Geragos.
Authorities say he walked into the center’s reception area the afternoon of May 10, 2010 and asked to speak to Father Jerold Lindner. He said he had a death notification about a member of the priest’s family and then allegedly assaulted him.
The case is being closely watched by critics of the Roman Catholic Church who allege Lindner raped and sodomized Lynch and his brother when they were small boys in the ’70s while on camping trips.
If a jury convicts Lynch, he’s could serve a maximum of four years in state prison. The court, however, could grant him probation and give him up to one year in county jail, Gemetti said.
“We have been ready for trial for quite some time,” Gemetti said. “I’m quite anxious to get the matter proceeding.”
Victim Advocates Question Security Around Defrocked Jesuit Brethren
Head of Jesuit order says men are under strict supervision at center in Los Gatos.
By Sheila Sanchez January 10, 2011
The Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. One of its defrocked priests was beaten in May 2010. The alleged attacker appeared in court in December and will face a judge on Feb. 7 for a preliminary hearing in a case that will probably go to trial.
Santa Clara County prosecutors are accusing 44-year-old William Lynch of mauling Jesuit priest Jerold Lindner with his fists, said Lynch’s attorney Pat Harris. Lynch has said Lindner sodomized and raped him and his brother as young boys.
Lynch’s supporters, who include members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), plan a news conference after the hearing at the Santa Clara County Superior Court building on Hedding Street in San Jose and a march in Los Gatos, according to Harris.
The supporters are taking this opportunity to complain about the security measures at the center, which houses Lindner, 65, and five other retired priests or brethren who have faced charges of sexual abuse. They claim the men can leave the compound at any time and that the supervision plans aren’t strict enough.
The two, along with three other men, whom the order will not identify, live in the large Jesuit compound at 300 College Ave. The center includes a retirement home, an assisted-living facility and a skilled nursing infirmary. Here, 75 elderly priests live out the rest of their lives after serving in the elite order of priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Rev. John P. McGarry, the provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, said the concerns about the five men who live at the center are exaggerated.
McGarry is head supervisor at the center and leader of the 375 Jesuit priests who work in California.
He said none of the men is under investigation right now.
Connor is housed in the center’s skilled nursing facility, is confined to a wheelchair and has severe dementia, McGarry said. “He’s totally incapacitated,” he said. “Better that we take care of them there than having them be out on their own in the community.”
Lindner, said McGarry, is under a strict security plan that prevents him from leaving the center unsupervised.
“He didn’t drive himself to the hospital,” he said, referring to newspaper reports that said he had done so, which triggered victims’ protests.
He explained that nursing staff at the center attended to him, and that either one of the Jesuits in the community or one of the nurses on duty drove him to the hospital. “He wouldn’t have been able to drive … He was badly beaten up. His head was bleeding,” McGarry said.
Dan McNevin, a San Francisco SNAP volunteer, is skeptical and upset the Catholic Church hasn’t found another location to house clergy charged, accused or investigated of abuse. “Why are they living there and not in a more secure location?” said McNevin.
The deep distrust against the order, McNevin said, is caused by numerous incidents that indicate that the Jesuit hierarchy has covered up incidents to protect the order’s reputation.
“A priest who has abused should be behind bars and not living in a retreat center,” said McNevin.
McGarry has an answer to that. “If I had any concern that the men living here, who have allegations against them and who are on safety plans, were a risk to the larger community or a risk for reoffending, I would not have them living here,” he said.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office handled the Lynch incident in May because of jurisdiction issues regarding where the center is located. If something were to happen in the center’s parking lot, however, the Los Gatos Monte Sereno police department would step in, said police spokesman Sgt. Kerry Harris. But he said the center has never given the town any problems.
“We’ve never had any issues with them,” Harris said.
For those looking for assurances, McGarry points to the fact that the center has been accredited by the Austin-based Praesidium risk management group, which has established criteria regarding the prevention of and response to sexual abuse of minors by Jesuit authorities. He added that Praesidium had renewed the center’s certification in July 2010.
The five men who live at the center have served at one time or another in Jesuit schools such as Bellarmine College Preparatory, Sacred Heart Nativity School and Most Holy Trinity Parish in San Jose and Santa Clara University in Santa Clara.
McGarry said the order’s policy continues to be to turn over to criminal and civil authorities allegations of priestly misconduct with minors. The province provides pastoral care and counseling to any person that comes forward and makes an allegation of sexual abuse, he said. He said he’s met often with people who have made allegations.
Joey Piscitelli, Northern California director for the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests, isn’t buying it. “They have aided, abetted, shuffled, protected and promoted known child rapists for decades, and that’s criminal behavior,” he said.
Piscitelli, who says he was molested by a Salesian priest, won a $5 million settlement award against the order after a jury trial in 2006.
Piscitelli has protested outside the center several times, along with John Chevedden, whose brother, Jesuit priest James Chevedden, killed himself when he jumped from the sixth floor of the Santa Clara County Courthouse’s parking garage in 2005.
Chevedden accused the Jesuits of negligence in his brother’s death and in 2007 and settled with the order for $1.6 million.
He said the Lynch case is another example of how victims of abuse suffer for a long time. “It’s disturbing to see how long-lasting and traumatic the abuse is to the victims … that after 35 years it still has a strong impact,” Chevedden said.
What I also found interesting was one of the comments posted under this article:
Fr. Thomas Smolich, promoted to be the # 1 Jesuit in the USA, said a Jesuit priest and resident at the Los Gatos Center, Fr. James Chevedden committed suicide. The Jesuit Order even issued a news release claiming Fr. Chevedden’s suspicious death was a suicide. Fr. Smolich also told Fr. Chevedden’s family that the Jesuit Order would keep Fr. Chevedden’s body.
Fr. Chevedden had earlier reported to Fr. Smolich that he was the victim of Jesuit sex abuse at Los Gatos by a Jesuit Religious Brother, Br. Charles Connor. Br. Connor and Fr. Jerold Lindner were friends. Lindner helped Br. Connor with computers and both sat at the same small meal table.
Ironically or worse, the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive was Fr. Lindner, with $2 million paid out in sex abuse settlements. The Jesuit Order did not tell the police that Fr. Lindner was the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive. Fr. Lindner was scheduled to testify about his being the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Fr. Chevedden’s Dad. The Jesuit Order paid $1.6 million to settle the lawsuit. Thus Fr. Lindner avoided explaining his being last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive.
Convicted Hunter priest to retire
TORONTO Catholic priest Tom Brennan will break a three-year silence today in a statement announcing his retirement over church handling of a notorious Hunter paedophile priest case.
Victims and their families expressed relief yesterday that Brennan, convicted in 2009 of a charge flowing from a police investigation of the paedophile priest, would no longer hold the position of parish priest.
‘‘Thank God for that. Finally some justice,’’ said a victim who described the church’s failure to act against the Toronto priest until now as an ‘‘open wound’’.
Brennan will express regret for the ‘‘terrible things’’ that happened to young boys at a Hunter Catholic school where he was principal in the 1970s and 1980s when the paedophile priest, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a teacher.
He will express ‘‘sincere hope’’ that his retirement, from today, will bring peace to victims and their families experiencing ‘‘ongoing hurt’’ after he remained a parish priest following his conviction for making a false statement to police investigating the paedophile priest.
Brennan told police he could not recall boys, parents and teachers reporting sexual abuse allegations about the teacher-priest in the 1970s and 1980s.
In late 2009 a District Court judge rejected Brennan’s appeal against the conviction, saying he did not believe the priest could not remember the multiple complaints.
Brennan is retiring before completion of a church investigation ordered by Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright early this year after meetings with victims and their families. The investigation is considering whether ‘‘any act or omission’’ of Brennan’s while at the school ‘‘might be subject to penalty under church law’’, Bishop Wright said.
It will be finalised, but will not be made public.
It follows former bishop Michael Malone’s repeated refusal to take action against Brennan after his conviction.
In a statement yesterday, Bishop Wright said some victims of the paedophile priest would ‘‘probably always think chiefly of Father Brennan as the man from whom they should have received help and protection’’.
While Brennan had consistently stated he could not remember requests for help relating to the paedophile priest, he had shown Bishop Wright the statement being released today in which he hoped his retirement would assist victims in their recovery and ‘‘bring them the peace they justly deserve’’.
Brennan announced his retirement at services on the weekend. He will remain at Toronto as caretaker priest until a new parish priest is appointed.