8 New Priest Child-Sex Abuse Lawsuits
By Jackie Gailey| Tuesday, Sep 18, 2012 | Updated 7:21 PM EDT
Eight new civil lawsuits claiming the Archdiocese of Philadelphia covered up child sex abuse allegations are being filed in Philadelphia.
Two alleged victims of priest sex abuse spoke at a news conference on Tuesday, about their experiences and why they decided not to conceal their identities in the civil lawsuits.
Andrew Druding and Michael McDonnell are two of nine plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits naming the Archdiocese, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Msgr. William Lynn.
Seven priests are also named in the complaints, they are: Msgr. Francis Feret, St.Timothy’s School, Northeast Philadelphia; Fr. John H. Mulholland, Holy Child Parish, Manayunk; Fr. John P. Schmeer, Roman Catholic High School, Philadelphia; St. Anastasia School, Newtown Square, PA; Edward Avery (Defrocked), St. Bernadette’s, Drexel Hill, PA.; Father Robert L Brennan, St. Marks School, Philadelphia; Resurrection of our Lord, Philadelphia; Father Joseph J Gallagher, Ascension of our Lord, Philadelphia; Father Francis X. Trauger, St. Titus, Norristown.
Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was convicted in June of child endangerment for failing to oust then-priest Edward Avery after a 1992 sex abuse complaint. Lynn is serving three to six years in prison.
Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said Lynn enabled “monsters in clerical garb…. to destroy the souls of children, to whom you turned a hard heart.”
“After two grand jury investigations in the city of philly that comprehensively covered the cover up by the archdiocese and the conviction of Msgr. Lynn for endangering children and after the guilty plea by defrocked priest Avery, we know for a certainty that there is an ongoing conspiracy to endanger children and to cover up for the benefit of the Archdiocese,” said co-counsel Marci Hamilton.
The lawsuits claim procedures supposedly implemented by the Archdiocese to help victims of sexual abuse where instead used to assist the abusive priests and the Archdiocese to avoid liability.
Victims were falsely assured by the Archdiocese that statements made to the archdiocese would be confidential but instead the statements were turned over to Archdiocese attorneys and used to build defenses for the Archdiocese and to impeach victims, according to the lawsuits.
McDonnell, whose complaint alleges abuse by two priests, read the following statement at Tuesday’s news conference, “I speak not only for myself but for the countless others who suffered adolescent horror — you are not alone. Today is not just about seeking justice, but also, as it was written by President John F. Kennedy, about ‘our most admirable human virtue- courage.’ As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by the clergy, I can tell you that there is no doubt that the conspiracy to cover-up the grave moral actions by the clergy started long before these tragedies ever became public. It was protocol. It is today that courage brings me here, it is today that more will be revealed.”
The Philadelphia Archdiocese released this statement to NBC10, “We have not received copies of the cases that the plaintiffs have said they intend to file, so we cannot provide more detailed information on those particular lawsuits at this time. We believe lawsuits are not the best mechanism to promote healing in the context of the very private and difficult circumstances of sexual abuse. We will work to assure all victims of sexual abuse receive appropriate assistance.”
The Archdiocese told NBC10 the status of the priests named in the lawsuits are as follows: Avery has been removed from the clerical state; Brennan has been out of the ministry since 2006; Feret was found unsuitable for ministry by Archbishop Chaput in May 2012; Gallagher remains on administrative leave following the 2011 grand jury report; Mulholland was removed from the clerical state in 2008; Schmeer has accepted a supervised life of prayer and penance; and Trauger was removed from the clerical state in 2005.
Prosecutors say they never received convicted priest’s polygraph test
By John P. Martin
Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphia prosecutors scoffed Tuesday at a new claim by defense lawyers that they withheld evidence that might have helped Msgr. William J. Lynn at his landmark child-sex abuse and endangerment trial.
The District Attorney’s Office never received a formal statement or polygraph results suggesting that Lynn’s codefendant, former priest Edward Avery, lied when he admitted sexually assaulting an altar boy, according to Hugh Burns, chief of the appeals unit.
The accuser’s testimony about the 1999 attack became a cornerstone of Lynn’s trial.
“To say that we knew [Avery] was innocent was, I’m sorry, it’s insane,” Burns said. “What we know is that he formally pleaded guilty because he had evidence that made him guilty.”
Burns’ comments marked the office’s first response since defense lawyers Monday cited Avery in their latest bid to win bail for Lynn, the former secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Burns said he would file a formal reply to the Superior Court motion within two weeks, but wanted to counter specious claims by the monsignor’s defense.
Avery, 70, was a critical figure in the case, even though the Common Pleas Court jurors never heard or saw him.
Four days before the trial opened in March, Avery pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the 10-year-old boy at St. Jerome parish in Northeast Philadelphia and conspiring with Lynn to endanger children.
Three months later, jurors convicted Lynn of one count of endangerment because he let Avery live at the parish and celebrate Mass there in the 1990s despite knowing the priest molested a boy in a previous assignment.
Lynn is now serving three to six years in state prison.
In their bail motion, attorneys Thomas Bergstrom, Allison Khaskelis, and Alan Tauber said they learned only last month that Avery had passed a polygraph test in which he denied assaulting, or even knowing, the former altar boy.
Bergstrom said one of Avery’s lawyers told him about the polygraph.
The motion says Avery agreed to admit molesting another boy in the 1970s, but prosecutors insisted instead that he plead guilty to the attack on the St. Jerome’s boy.
In return, Avery got a 2½- to five-year prison term, one far shorter than what he faced if he had been convicted at trial, where prosecutors were prepared to show jurors evidence that he molested at least a half-dozen boys.
The monsignor’s defenders said the district attorneys knew about Avery’s denial and the polygraph results, but did not share them because they were “driven by a zealous and single-minded desire” to convict Lynn, the first church official charged with covering up clergy sex-abuse.
They contend that this violated long-standing court rules requiring government lawyers to turn over any evidence that could be considered exculpatory for a defendant.
Burns disputed the facts and the argument.
Guilty defendants typically insist they are innocent at first, he noted. And he said prosecutors never saw any polygraph results – but even if they had, they would not have been required to share them because the material came from a codefendant and was not uncovered by government investigators.
Besides, the appeals chief said, the results of a polygraph commissioned for a defendant by a defendant would not have mattered.
“It would have made no difference,” Burns said, “because polygraphs are not reliable – and that’s why they are not admissible in court.”
Lynn’s lawyers say the information could have shaped their tactical decisions at trial.
The lawyers said they had considered cross-examining Avery’s accuser, but that Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina made it clear such a line of questioning would open the door for prosecutors to tell jurors about Avery’s guilty plea. So the man’s testimony stood unchallenged.
Taleah Grimmage, one of the jurors, acknowledged Tuesday that the testimony from the former altar boy “definitely played a large part” in their guilty verdict against Lynn.
“He was the face, the voice,” of Avery and Lynn’s crimes, Grimmage said in an interview.
But the man’s testimony wasn’t the only evidence that swayed jurors, she said. Lynn’s decision to let Avery live at the rectory and celebrate Mass at the church endangered other children as well, she said.
“A lot of us felt that if [the accuser] didn’t exist, there were other potential children who did come in contact with Father Avery,” Grimmage said.
The issue could ripple beyond Lynn’s appeal. Avery had been listed as a potential witness in the January trial of the Rev. Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero, who are charged with sexually abusing the same altar boy at St. Jerome’s.
The accuser also has a civil suit pending against Avery, Lynn, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Jail for a grave sin of omission
5:12 PM, Jul 30, 2012
From the link: http://www.app.com/article/20120731/NJOPINION01/307310012/Jail-grave-sin-omission?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|p&nclick_check=1
Msgr. William Lynn did not rape a child. He did not molest a child.
But he will go to prison for at least three years because those awful things happened to children. And it is justice — long, long overdue justice — that sends an important message across the United States and, hopefully, around the world.
A few Catholic priests who for years molested and assaulted children have been sent to prison in this country. They are, unfortunately, only a handful among the guilty, most of whom will never face deserved time behind bars because they’ve died or statutes of limitation have run out or because there isn’t enough evidence left to ensure a conviction.
Lynn, though, is the first Catholic official convicted in the United States solely for the crime of covering up sex abuse claims. The former secretary of clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was found guilty last month by a jury in Philadelphia of felony child endangerment.
Lynn learned in 1992 that now-defrocked priest Edward Avery abused a boy years earlier. Lynn sent Avery for treatment at a church-run facility that diagnosed him with an alcohol problem, not a sexual disorder.
Avery was subsequently returned to the ministry in Philadelphia and sexually assaulted an altar boy in 1999. Avery is serving a 2½- to five-year sentence for that crime.
Of course, it was more than just that episode. As Judge M. Teresa Sarmina noted in sentencing Lynn, she was convinced that he stayed in his job and kept quiet when the then-head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, had a list of priests accused of sex abuse destroyed.
There is nothing — no boss, no institution, no tradition — that serves as any valid excuse for not taking action to stop a pedophile.
That lesson is being learned now, too late, at Penn State. Top officials there who didn’t call police right away to stop Jerry Sandusky from continuing to assault boys rightly face criminal charges for allegedly lying to a grand jury about their role in a cover-up.
The old maxim, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” applies here. But doing nothing in the face of the sexual exploitation of children is not the act of good men and compounds the evil.
If doing nothing to stop sexual assaults is criminal, it must be punished. The Catholic Church for years has largely demonstrated an unwillingness to see that punishment is doled out.
So we applaud Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams for pursuing this case and getting a conviction against Lynn.
We only hope that it’s the first domino to fall and that other church officials around the world who hid pedophile priests, allowing the abuse of children to continue, get the punishment that’s due them.