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Witness: Priest plied me with booze, molested me


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.

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