The Catholic Church’s Secret Sex-Crime Files
How a scandal in Philadelphia exposed documents that reveal a high-level conspiracy to cover up decades of sexual abuse
| September 6, 2011
The five co-defendants sit close enough to shake hands in the Philadelphia courtroom, but they never once acknowledge one another. Father James Brennan, a 47-year-old priest accused of raping a 14-year-old boy, looks sad and stooped in a navy sweater, unshaven and sniffling. Edward Avery, a defrocked priest in his sixties, wears an unsettlingly pleasant expression on his face, as though he’s mentally very far away. He and two other defendants – the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, also in his sixties, and Bernard Shero, a former Catholic schoolteacher in his forties – are accused of passing around “Billy,” a fifth-grade altar boy. According to the charges, the three men raped and sodomized the 10-year-old, sometimes making him perform stripteases or getting him drunk on sacramental wine after Mass.
Heinous as the accusations are, the most shocking – and significant – are those against the fifth defendant, Monsignor William Lynn. At 60, Lynn is portly and dignified, his thin lips pressed together and his double chin held high. In a dramatic fashion statement, he alone has chosen to wear his black clerical garb today, a startling reminder that this is a priest on trial, a revered representative of the Catholic Church, not to mention a high-ranking official in Philadelphia’s archdiocese. Lynn, who reported directly to the cardinal, was the trusted custodian of a trove of documents known in the church as the “Secret Archives files.” The files prove what many have long suspected: that officials in the upper echelons of the church not only tolerated the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests but conspired to hide the crimes and silence the victims. Lynn is accused of having been the archdiocese’s sex-abuse fixer, the man who covered up for its priests. Incredibly, after a scandal that has rocked the church for a generation, he is the first Catholic official ever criminally charged for the cover-up.
The deluge of sexual-abuse cases in America’s largest religious denomination began in 1985, when a Louisiana priest was sentenced to 20 years in prison after admitting to sexually abusing 37 boys. But it wasn’t until 2002, when civil suits in Boston revealed that Cardinal Bernard Law had shielded rapist priests, that the extent of the scandal became widely known. In Germany, the church is overwhelmed by hundreds of alleged victims, and investigations are under way in Austria and the Netherlands. In Ireland, the government recently issued a scathing report that documents how Irish clergy – with tacit approval from the Vatican – covered up the sexual abuse of children as recently as 2009.
Battered by civil suits and bad press, the church has responded with a head-spinning mix of contrition and deflection, blaming anti-Catholic bias and the church’s enemies for paying undue attention to the crisis. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops helped fund a $1.8 million study of sex-abuse cases against priests, but the results read like a mirthless joke: To lower the number of clergy classified as “pedophiles,” the report redefines “puberty” as beginning at age 10 – and then partially blames the rise in child molesting on the counterculture of the 1960s. The church also insists that any sex crimes by priests are a thing of the past. “The abuse crisis,” the study’s lead author concluded, “is over.”
That echoed statements by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who went on 60 Minutes declaring the scandal “nothing less than hideous” and then, with a sweep of his hand, announced, “That’s over with!” Dolan, in turn, sounded a lot like Bishop Wilton Gregory, the former president of the USCCB, who framed the lie more eloquently: “The terrible history recorded here is history.” That was in 2004, seven years ago.
Given how the innermost workings of Catholic culture have long been cloaked in secrecy, the case in Philadelphia offers a rare opportunity to understand why the cover-up of sexual abuse has continued for so long, despite the church’s repeated promises of reform. The answer, in large part, lies in the mindset of the church’s rigid hierarchy, which promotes officials who are willing to do virtually anything they’re told, so long as it’s in God’s name. “It’s almost like the type of stuff you see in cult behavior,” says a former Philadelphia priest who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “Someone on the outside would say, ‘That’s crazy.’ But when you’re on the inside, you say, ‘It’s perfectly right, because everything is divinely inspired.’ If you have a monopoly on God, you can get away with anything.”
Long before he became the guardian of the church’s secrets, Bill Lynn was a boy with a higher calling. In the fall of 1968, after graduating from Bishop McDevitt High School in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Lynn arrived at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, a stately campus whose soaring chapels, somber libraries and marble sculptures with heads bowed in prayer gave off an aura of reverence, history and costly precision. Lynn, a friendly, overweight boy whose acne-scarred face was topped with jet-black hair, was ready to begin his eight-year path to priestly ordination, a process the church calls “formation.”
At St. Charles, Lynn was plunged into an environment in which every moment was accounted for. Strict rules governed all aspects of life, especially the personal. Besides the obvious prohibitions on sexual contact – including with oneself, or even in one’s imagination – no seminarian was allowed to get too close with his peers, since he was to concentrate on developing bonds with God and the church. Seminary is a form of military-style indoctrination, molding men to think institutionally, not individually. “It’s like a brainwashing, almost,” says Michael Lynch, who attended St. Charles for nine years but was rejected for priesthood after repeatedly butting heads with his superiors. Lynch recalls a priest barking at his class, “We own you! We own your body, we own your soul!”
The goal of priesthood is a lofty one: a man placed on a pedestal for his community to revere, an alter Christus – “another Christ” – who can literally channel the power of Jesus and help create the perfect society intended by God. To model that perfection and elevate themselves above the sinful laity, clergy adopt a vow of celibacy, which has served as a centerpiece of Catholic priesthood since the 12th century. It’s a tall order to sculpt chaste, living incarnations of Jesus out of the sloppy clay of your average 18-year-old male. Even many of those who wind up being ordained fail to maintain their chastity: According to a 1990 study by psychologist Richard Sipe, only half of all priests adhere to their vows of celibacy. It is not just the sex-abuse epidemic the church seeks to deny, but sex itself.
“The real secret here is the sexual life of cardinals and bishops,” says Sipe, a former Benedictine monk who specializes in treating clergy and who has followed the case against Lynn. “If you pull the string in a knitted sweater, you’ll unravel the whole thing. This will unravel all the way to Rome.”
Many seminarians dropped out of St. Charles; others, informed that they weren’t priestly material, were “invited” to leave. Those who remained were the ones willing to surrender to the process of formation: men prepared to bend to the will of their higher powers, both earthly and divine. Such intensive focus on preparing for one’s “priestly burdens,” however, often meant that men emerged from the incubator of seminary ill-prepared for the complexities of life itself. In 1972, while Lynn was still at St. Charles, a landmark study called “The Catholic Priest in the United States: Psychological Investigations” found that three-fourths of all American priests were psychologically and emotionally underdeveloped, or even “maldeveloped.” The attitudes of these grown men toward sex, the study concluded, were on par with those of teenagers or even preteens.
Lynn thrived in seminary, where he made an impression as an affable guy who always toed the line. At his ordination, he took a solemn oath of obedience to the bishop, sealing himself into the church’s vertical framework, in which everyone is bound to the strata above them. He was assigned first to a parish in Philadelphia, then to a wealthy church in the suburbs. His parishioners liked him, and Lynn’s deference to his senior pastor made an impression on the archdiocese. In 1984, when a job as dean of men opened up at St. Charles, Lynn was plucked to fill it. “The dean is there to make sure you’re being formed properly,” explains a former Philadelphia priest familiar with the appointment. “A dean is also the type of person you want your students to want to be. We wanted to replicate priests in the model we had already been creating – nice, compliant, faithful priests. So we put Bill Lynn there: a nice, compliant, faithful priest we wanted young men to look up to.”
Over the next eight years, Lynn was a hands-on adviser. He’d wake seminarians who overslept for Mass, take them to task for missing household chores and monitor their spiritual progress. Lynn proved himself to his superiors as someone who didn’t disrupt the status quo, someone who could be trusted. In 1992, at age 41, he was named secretary of the clergy, a position that effectively made him the human-resources director for the 400 or so priests in greater Philadelphia. It was a job that required the utmost loyalty and discretion. Lynn now reported directly to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. If a priest broke the rules or stepped out of line in any way, it would be Lynn’s job to discipline him and inform his superiors. That, says the former priest familiar with St. Charles, is precisely why Lynn was chosen for the job: “They sure as hell weren’t going to pick someone who was going to send priests to jail.”
Every Catholic diocese has Secret Archives files – it’s mandated by canon law as a repository for complaints against priests so scandalous that they must be kept out of the regular personnel files. Few outsiders know the secret archives exist, and only the most trusted clergy have access to them. In Philadelphia, the sole keyholders were the cardinal and his closest aides. The files were kept in a row of unlabeled, gray-green cabinets in a windowless room on the 12th floor of the archdiocese’s Center City office tower. Inside was an exhaustive compendium of scandals dating back more than 50 years: priests with drinking problems, priests who had gotten women pregnant, aging stacks of confiscated pornography. Then there were the reams of carefully typed memos that discussed priests with what the archdiocese delicately referred to as “unnatural involvements” or “unusual patterns.” Priests, in other words, who had sexually abused the children in their care.
One memo directed to Cardinal Bevilacqua in 1989 described a pedophile priest’s evaluation at an archdiocese-owned hospital, in which the doctor “is of the very strong opinion that Father Peter J. Dunne is a very sick man” who should be removed from ministry; the memo warned that Dunne’s problem was so acute “that we are sitting on a powder keg.” Another file began with a sheaf of letters that Father Joseph Gausch, an active pastor, had sent another priest detailing his sex with an eighth-grade boy in 1948, three years after his ordination. Gausch called it “the closest approximation to an old-fashioned roll that I have had in years… and the subject was oh-so-satisfactory and (this is what makes the story) willin’.” In both cases, the response from the cardinal was the same: secret therapy, then reassign the offending priest to a new parish and pretend nothing had happened.
In the thick file devoted to Father Raymond Leneweaver, who had been moved to four different parishes after admitting to molesting at least seven boys, officials fretted in 1980 that they had run out of places to send him “where his scandalous action would not be known.” Scandal is a word that pops up throughout the Secret Archives files. The officials writing the internal memos almost never express concern for the victims – only concern over the risk to the church’s reputation. If the risk was deemed low, an offending priest was simply reassigned to a different parish. If the risk was high, priests were shipped to a far-off diocese with the permission of the reigning bishop, a practice known as “bishops helping bishops.”
Even in rare cases where word of a priest’s crimes leaked out, the cardinal was reluctant to expose the priest. Leneweaver was such a case; his ministry career ended only after he resigned. “His problem is not occupational or geographical,” wrote the cardinal at the time, “and will follow him wherever he goes.” Having acknowledged the severity of Leneweaver’s compulsions, the cardinal released him from the clergy but still chose not to inform law-enforcement officials of his crimes. With his clean record, Leneweaver, an admitted child-rapist, went on to take a job as a teacher at a public middle school in suburban Philadelphia.
Bill Lynn understood that his mission, above all, was to preserve the reputation of the church. The unspoken rule was clear: Never call the police. Not long after his promotion, Lynn and a colleague held a meeting with Rev. Michael McCarthy, who had been accused of sexually abusing boys, informing the priest of the fate that Cardinal Bevilacqua had approved: McCarthy would be reassigned to a “distant” parish “so that the profile can be as low as possible and not attract attention from the complainant.” Lynn dutifully filed his memo of the meeting in the Secret Archives, where it would sit for the next decade.
Over the 12 years that he held the job of secretary of the clergy, Lynn mastered the art of damage control. With his fellow priests, Lynn was unfailingly sympathetic; in a meeting with one distraught pastor who had just admitted to abusing boys, Lynn comforted the clergyman by suggesting that his 11-year-old victim had “seduced” him. With victims, Lynn was smooth and reassuring, promising to take their allegations seriously while doing nothing to punish their abusers. Kathy Jordan, who told Lynn in 2002 that she had been assaulted by a priest as a student at a Catholic high school, recalls how he assured her that the offender would no longer be allowed to work as a pastor. Years later, while reading the priest’s obituary, Jordan says it became clear to her that her abuser had, in fact, remained a priest, serving Mass in Maryland. “I came to realize that by having this friendly, confiding way, Lynn had neutralized me,” she says. “He handled me brilliantly.”
In his very first year on the job, Lynn received a letter from a 29-year-old medical student that would trigger the events that led to his arrest 19 years later. The student – whom the grand jury would call “James” – reported that as a teenage altar boy he had been molested by his priest, Father Edward Avery. The popular and gregarious Avery, nicknamed “The Smiling Padre,” was considered hip for a priest; he moonlighted as a DJ at weddings and invited lucky boys for sleepovers at his house at the Jersey Shore. The med student included a copy of a letter he had written to Avery. “I have let too much of my life be controlled by this terrible wrong you committed,” it read. “You had no right to hurt me the way you did. You have no right to hurt anyone else this way.”
This was a code-red situation that Lynn had to get under control. He began by interviewing James, who described how Avery had molested him at the beach house, at the parish rectory and on a ski trip to Vermont, sometimes after plying him with beer. James said he wasn’t looking for money – only an assurance that Avery would no longer be a threat to children. That was surely a relief: the risk of scandal was clearly low. Next, Lynn confronted Avery, whom he’d known in seminary. According to Lynn’s memo, the priest admitted that some of the allegations “could be” true – but insisted it had been “strictly accidental” and that he had been so drunk at the time, he couldn’t recall exactly what had happened.
According to church protocol, an admission of any kind meant a priest must be sent for medical care. So Lynn recommended that Avery seek treatment at St. John Vianney Hospital, a facility in the leafy Philadelphia suburb of Downingtown that maintained a discreet inpatient program that treats sexually abusive priests. Cardinal Bevilacqua approved the request, but the bureaucratic wheels moved slowly: Avery remained in the pulpit for another 10 months before he was hospitalized for his secret therapy. After his release, his doctors prescribed that he be monitored by an aftercare team consisting of Lynn and two other priests. But the church did not take the recommendation seriously. The team did not meet for more than a year – one priest later testified that he didn’t even know he was on the team.
Avery’s doctors also recommended that he be kept away from teens and other “vulnerable” populations. Instead, the church assigned Avery to a new residence with plenty of exposure to kids: St. Jerome, a parish in northeast Philadelphia that included an elementary school. (The rectory had an empty bed because its previous resident, Rev. Bill Dougherty, had been quietly moved to another parish after being accused of abusing a high school girl.) Officially speaking, Avery didn’t work at the parish – he simply lived there, with an assignment as a chaplain at a nearby hospital. With encouragement from Lynn, he became a regular presence at St. Jerome, serving Mass and hearing confessions. He took on more DJ jobs than ever, booking gigs almost every weekend. “He seemed mesmerized, focused, as if he became a different person DJ’ing,” recalls Rev. Michael Kerper, who split shifts with Avery at the hospital. Kerper, under the impression that Avery had been moved to a low-pressure chaplain job after a nervous breakdown, worried that Avery was risking another collapse by spreading himself so thin. One day, when Avery failed to show up at the hospital while on call, Kerper wrote the archdiocese to express his concern. He addressed his letter to Monsignor Lynn.
Lynn surprised Kerper by calling him directly and telling him to mind his own business. “You’re not going through the proper channels,” Lynn snapped. “You’re not his supervisor.” Avery was permitted to continue working as a DJ and pitching in at St. Jerome. The following year, according to the grand jury, Lynn received an e-mail from James, who was looking for assurance that Avery had been reassigned to “a situation where he can’t harm others… for my peace of mind, I have to know.” Lynn reassured James that the archdiocese had taken proper steps. Then Lynn met with Avery and instructed him to be “more low-keyed.” In doing so, says the grand jury, Lynn helped set the stage for the horror that came next.
“Billy” was a 10-year-old student at St. Jerome School in 1998, and an altar boy just like his older brother before him. A sweet, gentle kid with boyish good looks, Billy was outgoing and well-liked. One morning, after serving Mass, Rev. Charles Engelhardt caught Billy in the church sacristy sipping leftover wine. Rather than get mad, however, the priest poured Billy more wine. According to the grand jury, he also showed him some pornographic magazines, asking the boy how the pictures made him feel and whether he preferred the images of naked men or women. He told Billy it was time to become a man and that they would soon begin their “sessions.”
A week later, Billy learned what Engelhardt meant. After Mass, the priest allegedly fondled the boy, sucked his penis and ordered Billy to kneel and fellate him – calling him “son” while instructing him to move his head faster or slower – until Engelhardt ejaculated. The priest later suggested another “session,” but Billy refused and Engelhardt let him be.
A few months later, while Billy was putting away the bells following choir practice, he was taken aside by another priest: Father Avery. According to the grand jury, Avery told Billy that he had heard all about the boy’s “session” with Engelhardt – and that Avery’s own “sessions” with him would soon begin. Billy pretended not to know what Avery was talking about, but his stomach lurched. Later, after Billy served a morning Mass with Avery, the priest led him to the sacristy, turned on some music and told him to do a striptease. When Billy dutifully started shedding his clothes, Avery instructed him to dance to the music while undressing. Then the Smiling Padre sat back and watched the awkward performance before taking off his own clothes and ordering the naked boy onto his lap. He kissed Billy’s neck and back, telling him that God loved him. Then he allegedly fondled the boy, fellated him, and commanded Billy to return the favor, culminating in Avery’s ejaculating on Billy and congratulating him on a good “session.” A second session allegedly followed weeks later when Avery, finding Billy cleaning a chalice after a weekend Mass, ordered the boy to strip. The priest then fellated Billy while making the boy masturbate him to climax.
Billy never told anyone what had happened. But from then on, he made sure to trade assignments with other altar boys to avoid serving Mass with Father Avery. After summer break, when Billy returned to St. Jerome and entered the sixth grade, he was assigned a new teacher, Bernard Shero. His abuse seemed to be a thing of the past, something best forgotten.
One day, according to the grand jury, Shero offered Billy a ride after school. Instead, they stopped at a park about a mile from Billy’s house. “We’re going to have some fun,” Shero told him. He ordered Billy into the back seat, helped him undress, and then allegedly fellated and anally raped him, managing to insert his penis only partway because of Billy’s screams of pain. Then Shero made Billy perform the same acts on him. “It feels good,” he repeated over and over. Afterward, he made Billy get out of the car and walk home.
Before long, Billy began to change in disturbing ways. He often gagged or vomited for no reason and became increasingly sullen and withdrawn. He stopped hanging out with his friends and playing sports. He started smoking pot at 11; by his late teens, he was addicted to heroin. Billy spent his adolescence cycling in and out of drug-treatment programs and psychiatric centers, once spending a week in a locked ward after a suicide attempt. His parents, who later took out a mortgage on their home to pay for Billy’s care, were beside themselves, clueless as to what had sent their sunny child into such a downward spiral.
When his mother found two books about sexual abuse stashed under his bed, Billy brushed off her suspicions. The books were for an assignment at school, he told her, and refused to say anything more.
Billy’s alleged abuse at the hands of the Philadelphia priests might have remained a secret, if not for the church’s inept attempt at spin control. After the abuse scandal in Boston broke open in 2002, every Catholic diocese in America had rushed to reassure its parishioners. Philadelphia was no different: Cardinal Bevilacqua declared that in the previous 50 years, his archdiocese knew of only 35 priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. That was news to Lynne Abraham, the city’s district attorney at the time, since not a single one of those 35 cases had been reported to her office. When Abraham asked the archdiocese’s law firm for details, it refused to cooperate. In the face of stonewalling, Abraham moved for a grand-jury investigation and assigned a team of prosecutors nicknamed “The God Squad” to probe the archdiocese’s handling of sex-abuse claims.
The God Squad had no idea what they were in for. The archdiocese fought the investigation at every turn. “It was like trying to infiltrate a racketeering organization,” recalls former Assistant District Attorney Will Spade. “Most of these guys just seemed to be in the wrong professions. They weren’t kind or understanding or any of the things a priest should be. They were just thugs.”
The grand jury subpoenaed the church’s internal records. Compelled by the court, the church’s lawyer began meeting with prosecutors at a Dunkin’ Donuts midway between the archdiocese’s headquarters and the DA’s office, handing over the Secret Archives files piece by piece. “I felt like I was living in a detective novel,” says Spade. Though the prosecutors had been anticipating some sort of internal records, they were taken aback at the very existence of the secret files. “I always thought it was funny, them calling it the Secret Archives files,” he says. “You morons! If they’re so secret, why are you even calling it that?”
When the secret archives were finally unlocked, prosecutors were stunned to find thousands of documents that detailed the hundreds of victims who had allegedly been abused by 169 priests. “There was so much material, we could still be presenting information to the grand jury today if we followed every lead,” says Charles Gallagher, a former Philadelphia deputy district attorney who supervised the investigation. “We ultimately had to focus.”
In 2005, the grand jury released its 418-page report, which stands as the most blistering and comprehensive account ever issued on the church’s institutional cover-up of sexual abuse. It named 63 priests who, despite credible accusations of abuse, had been hidden under the direction of Cardinal Bevilacqua and his predecessor, Cardinal Krol. It also gave numerous examples of Lynn covering up crimes at the bidding of his boss.
In the case of Rev. Stanley Gana, accused of “countless” child molestations, Lynn spent months ruthlessly investigating the personal life of one of the priest’s victims, whom Gana had allegedly begun raping at age 13. Lynn later helpfully explained to the victim that the priest slept with women as well as children. “You see,” he said, “he’s not a pure pedophile” – which was why Gana remained in the ministry with the cardinal’s blessing.
Then there was Monsignor John Gillespie, who was not sent for medical evaluation until six years after Lynn began receiving complaints about him. Therapists subsequently reported that Gillespie was “dangerous” – but Lynn was more concerned about the priest’s insistence on apologizing to his victims. To keep the scandal from becoming public, Gillespie was ordered to resign for “health reasons.” Cardinal Bevilacqua then honored the priest with the title of pastor emeritus – and allowed him to hear the confessions of schoolchildren for another year.
“In its callous, calculating manner, the archdiocese’s ‘handling’ of the abuse scandal was at least as immoral as the abuse itself,” the grand jury concluded. Immoral didn’t mean illegal, however, and the grand jury found itself unable to recommend any prosecutions, in part because the statute of limitations on all of the abuse cases had run out. But the nightmare had been revealed, and the Philadelphia faithful recoiled in shock.
Perhaps no one was more disturbed than the new parishioners of Lynn, who had been quietly reassigned to a plum job as pastor of St. Joseph’s, a rich suburban parish. The job was essentially a promotion: Lynn’s predecessor had just been ordained a bishop and given a diocese of his own. A kind and jocular pastor, Lynn had swiftly become beloved in the parish, always happy to pitch in at events held by the Home & School Association or to host dinner parties in his rectory. Stunned by the grand-jury report, parishioners were at a loss to square the unfeeling church official who had manipulated innocent victims with the compassionate pastor whom they knew. In the rectory dining room, one woman confronted Lynn in tears.
“How did you do this?” she demanded, sobbing. “Why did you do this?”
Lynn looked her right in the eye. “Don’t believe everything you read,” he said firmly. “I put them in treatment. I took care of the families.”
The first of the 63 priests listed in the grand jury’s catalog of abusers was Father Avery. By then, Avery had been placed on administrative leave – but he still remained in the ministry, more than a dozen years after the allegations of sexual abuse against him had first surfaced.
Once again, it was the most powerful word in the secret archives – scandal – that spurred the church to take action. As the grand jury was preparing to release its report, Cardinal Justin Rigali “urgently” petitioned Rome to take the extreme step of defrocking Avery against his will. “There is a great danger of additional public scandal so long as Father Avery remains a cleric,” he wrote, explaining that accusations against Avery had been in the papers and that his files had been subpoenaed. The Vatican needed to remove Avery from the priestly rolls, the cardinal urged, to avoid “additional scrutiny.”
Rigali needn’t have worried. According to the grand jury, Avery was persuaded to request a voluntary defrocking, thanks to a severance payment of $87,000. The laicization process of transforming a priest back into an ordinary civilian, which usually takes years of canonical trials, was completed in less than six months.
With Avery disposed of, Cardinal Rigali went about calming Philadelphia Catholics. The archdiocese retained a consultant to help it improve the handling of victim complaints. A centerpiece of the reform was an independent clergy-review board that evaluated accusations of abuse. It was a terrific idea, one that would inject transparency and accountability into the process by taking cases out of the shadowy archdiocese and putting them into the unbiased hands of others. In practice, however, the archdiocese simply cherry-picked cases to send to the board – a fact that board members themselves learned only after the secrecy was revealed by the grand jury last February. “The board was under the impression that we were reviewing every abuse allegation received by the archdiocese,” board chair Ana Maria Cantazaro complained in an essay for the Catholic magazine Commonweal.
In the few cases that were actually submitted to the panel, the grand jury found that “the results have often been worse than no decision at all.” Using lax standards developed in large part by the canonical lawyers, the board dismissed even highly credible allegations. The results of those decisions could be devastating. In 2007, a man named Daniel Neill complained that he had been abused as an altar boy by Rev. Joseph Gallagher. According to a lawsuit filed against the archdiocese, Neill gave three statements to an archdiocese investigator – only to be informed that the review board didn’t believe him. Devastated, Neill killed himself in 2009. After the grand-jury report, the archdiocese finally reversed itself by suspending Gallagher.
Under another reform instituted by the archdiocese – the Victim Assistance Program – abuse survivors like Neill could receive counseling paid for by the church. “I urge anyone who was abused in the past to contact our Victim Assistance Coordinators, who can help begin the healing process,” Cardinal Rigali declared. In reality, the grand jury found, the program was used as a way to discourage victims from calling the police and, even more insidiously, to extract information that could later be used against the victim in court. In a recent lawsuit against the archdiocese, one victim recounts how, in return for any assistance, the church pressured him to sign an agreement that “prohibited” the archdiocese from reporting the abuse to law enforcement. “All along, they were acting like they wanted to help me,” says the victim, “but really they just wanted to help themselves.”
When Billy, the altar boy allegedly passed around by Avery and others, sought help in 2009, the archdiocese’s victim coordinators once again took measures to protect the church. Instead of immediately offering to take the case to the police, the grand jury found, a coordinator named Louise Hagner and another staffer showed up at Billy’s house, where they pressured him into giving a graphic statement. Returning to her office, Hagner wrote up her notes – including her observation that she thought Billy had pretended to cry – and informed the church’s lawyers that Billy intended to sue.
At least one good thing came out of Billy’s case: When his allegations were finally brought to the district attorney’s office, his case, which falls within the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution, became the foundation of the grand jury’s current investigation. Even the Vatican itself appeared to take drastic action: On September 8th, Cardinal Rigali will be replaced by Charles Chaput, the charismatic archbishop of Denver. The Vatican insists, however, that Rigali’s resignation has nothing to do with the scandal. Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI has shown nothing but support: In April, when the pontiff needed a special envoy to appear on his behalf in the Czech Republic, he chose none other than Rigali for the honor.
As for Cardinal Bevilacqua, under whose watch Billy and other children were allegedly abused, the grand jury regretfully noted that it could not recommend criminal charges in the current case, since it lacked direct evidence against the cardinal. Bevilacqua, now 88, has rejected responsibility for the abuses that occurred during his tenure. When he testified before the grand jury in 2003, Bevilacqua conceded that any move involving the reassignment of accused priests was “ultimately my decision.” But he was quick to stress who was really at fault: In every instance, he insisted, he had “relied on my secretary of the clergy’s recommendations if anything was necessary to be done.” With Bevilacqua insulated from prosecution, the district attorney grabbed at a lower-level bureaucrat, one the cardinal himself had hung out to dry: Monsignor Bill Lynn.
Lynn stands in the courtroom in Philadelphia, having been sworn in by Judge Renée Cardwell Hughes. Hands clasped, his face pulled into a frown of concentration, the monsignor proceeds to answer a series of routine questions: He holds a master’s degree in education. He takes medication for high blood pressure. He has never been treated for mental illness or substance abuse. He understands that the charges against him carry a maximum penalty of 28 years in prison.
Then the judge comes to what she considers the most pressing point: Does Lynn truly understand the risk he faces by allowing the church to pay his legal fees? If Lynn’s attorneys are paid by the archdiocese, their loyalty to their benefactor may put them at odds with his needs as a defendant in a criminal trial.
“You have been charged. You could go to jail,” Hughes says gravely. “It may be in your best interest to provide testimony that is adverse to the archdiocese of Philadelphia, the organization that’s paying your lawyers. You understand that’s a conflict of interest?”
“Yes,” Lynn replies.
The judge massages her temples and grimaces, as though she can’t believe what she’s hearing. For 30 minutes straight, she hammers home the point: Do you understand there may come a time that the questioning of archdiocese officials could put you in conflict with your own attorney? Do you understand that you may be approached by the DA offering you a plea deal, in exchange for testimony against the archdiocese? Do you realize that is a conflict of interest for your lawyers?
“Yes, Your Honor,” Lynn continues to insist cheerfully, though his voice grows fainter as the minutes tick by. In one final plea for rationality, the judge asks if Lynn would like to consult with an independent attorney for a second opinion. He declines and returns to his seat, looking flushed and unhappy.
Lynn’s lawyers, citing a gag order on the parties in the case, declined to allow him to comment for this article. The archdiocese also refused to comment, citing its emphasis on what it calls “moving forward.” So far, Lynn’s attorneys have simply argued that the case should be dismissed: Because charges of child endangerment are normally reserved for people directly responsible for kids – parents, teachers – Lynn’s remove from the victims means his prolonged efforts to cover up the crimes were not technically illegal.
The court has rejected that argument, and the trial against Lynn and his co-defendants – all have pleaded not guilty – is scheduled to begin this winter. It may include videotaped testimony from Cardinal Bevilacqua, as well as the release of some 10,000 potentially incriminating documents. Lynn must know on some level that the church could be using him as a shield one last time in its systematic campaign to hide decades of monstrous abuses against children. But his willingness to sacrifice himself – his unswerving obedience to his superiors, even in the face of criminal charges – is what makes him such a loyal and devoted servant, all the way to the bitter end.
This is from the September 15, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.
Reflecting on the human cost of abuse and its prevention By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Reflecting on the human cost of abuse and its prevention
EDITORS NOTE: In July 2012 when Archbishop Chaput’s investigation cleared one accused priest, SNAP reacted with sharp criticism of Chaput’s procedure, saying decisions were “held in secrecy for months or weeks until the archbishop and his public relations staffers deem it’s most advantageous to disclose them. Chaput continues to act recklessly and selfishly … with little or no regard for children’s safety.” At the same time, SNAP also called “again” on Archbishop Chaput to proceed to defrock Lynn after his conviction; and for “eliminating Pennsylvania’s archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly statutes of limitations”. In January 2014, the archdiocese, prominently defended by Chaput, posted bail for Lynn. In April 2015 the state supreme court upheld the initial conviction and revoked Lynn’s bail. He was returned to serve the balance of his 3-to-6 year term. PLEASE read the Editors Notes following the end of the story.
The hypocrisy of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in the following story is incredibly revealing.
Now from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s own hypocritical words:
Throughout the weeks of April, our Commonwealth, along with the rest of the country, has been focused on National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.
Here in Pennsylvania, our people have come through a very difficult decade on this issue. But the abuse problem is much wider than any one state, profession or demographic group. It cuts through every level of society. Child abuse is an ugly crime; abusing children sexually compounds the evil. Every year we see many thousands of cases of child sexual abuse across the country in a full range of institutions, public and private, religious and secular.
In response, Pennsylvania legislators have passed 20 new laws aimed at preventing child abuse and providing better support for survivors. In doing so, they’ve offered a model for the nation. We owe them our gratitude for their good work. And it’s important to stress that as a Catholic community, we too are committed — just as everyone should be — to ensuring safe environments for children and young people.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has a zero tolerance policy for clergy, lay employees and volunteers who engage in sexual misconduct with children. If an accusation of this nature is made, we take immediate action by reporting the matter to law enforcement and cooperating with authorities fully in the course of their work.
We’re committed to educating all those who work with children, as well as the children in our schools and parish religious education programs, so they can recognize signs of abuse and make a report.
As we come to the end of April, it’s worth highlighting some key archdiocesan statistics:
* More than 280 designated Safe Environment Coordinators are now working in our parishes, schools and youth ministries to ensure compliance with state laws and archdiocesan safety policies.
* More than 92,000 adults have received training to recognize, respond and report child abuse since 2003.
* Nearly 30,000 adults have received mandatory reporter training.
* More than 100,000 children have received age-appropriate abuse prevention education.
* The archdiocese has invested more than $2.4 million in education and training aimed at preventing and reporting sexual abuse since 2006.
In addition, the archdiocesan Victim Assistance Program offers compassionate and substantial assistance to individuals and families every year. During the 2013-14 fiscal year alone, the Church in Philadelphia dedicated more than $1.6 million to various modes of assistance including counseling, medication, and vocational support for survivors and their families.
To put it simply: The Philadelphia Catholic community is, and will remain, fully committed to helping survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their families heal, no matter who committed the crime against them or when the crime occurred.
Evil actions in the past can’t be erased and shouldn’t be forgotten. Over the decades sexual abuse has wounded hundreds of innocent lives, both within and outside the Church in Pennsylvania. But the sins of the past need not determine the present or future.
The Catholic Church in the Greater Philadelphia region is dedicated to protecting our young people and families from sexual predators and the suffering they cause — now and always.
EDITORS NOTE: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia did NOT dedicate itself to protecting young people from sexual predators, nor did they do anything about the suffering of the victims. This is extremely well documented.
Cardinals John Krol and Anthony Bevilacqua covered up for their pedophile priests.
Bishop Joseph Cistone also participated in the cover ups, including silencing a nun who tried to alert parishioners at St. Gabriels parish of an abusive priest. Cistone also covered up for other priests and showed himself he was more concerned with the public relations than the sexual abuse of children.
Bishop William Lynn, who was eventually convicted in his part for covering up for “Father” James J. Brennan among others. “According to a scathing grand jury report, Lynn, as secretary of clergy for the archdiocese, concealed the crimes of accused priests and put them in positions in which they could harm more children.
Lynn figured prominently in a scathing 2005 grand jury report that found 63 priests in the archdiocese had been credibly accused of child sexual assault over several decades while local church officials turned a blind eye..
Some of the pedophile priests they covered up for were:
1. “Father” John McDevitt, a religion teacher at Father Judge High School for Boys, abused Richard Green for six months in 1990 and 1991. At the time, the victim’s uncle, Cardinal John Joseph O’Conner served as Archbishop of New York.
2. “Father” Edward Avery, 69, known for his moonlighting work as a disc jockey, pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child. He was immediately sentenced to 2½ to five years in prison. The charges stem from Avery’s abuse of an altar boy at St. Jerome’s Parish in northeast Pennsylvania in 1999, when Avery was 57 and the boy 10. Avery was at St. Jerome’s despite a credible 1992 complaint that led him to undergo psychological testing at an archdiocesan-run psychiatric hospital, according to a 2005 grand jury report. He was pulled from his parish, put on a so-called “health leave” and then reassigned in 1993, the report said.”
3. “Father” James J. Brennan: Brennan is accused of the 1996 rape of a 14-year-old boy.
The Diocese of Allenstown PA had 22 pedophile priests: Thomas J. Bender, Luis A. Bonilla Margarito, Bernard A. Flanagan, Stephen Forish, Francis (Frank) J. Fromholzer, James F. Gaffney, Edward R. Graff, Richard Gulliani, Leo Houseknecht, William E. Jones, Michael S. Lawrence, James J. McHale, Francis J. McNelis, James J. Mihalak, Gabriel M. Patil, Joseph A. Rock, John Paul Sabas, William J. Shields, David Soderland, A. Gregory Uhrig, Andrew A. Ulincy, Ronald J. Yarrosh.
The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown PA had 27 pedophile priests: Joseph J. Bender, Harold N. Biller, John J. Boyle, Martin A. Brady, James F. Bunn, Andrew Campbell, Thomas M. Carroll, Athanasius C. Cherry, Dennis E. Coleman, Alvin T. Downey, Elwood F. Figurelle, Joseph Gaborek, Bernard V. Grattan, Leonard Inman, Robert J. Kelly, George D. Koharchik, William Kovach, Thomas M. Lemmon, Anthony B. Little, Francis E. Luddy, Thomas K. Mabon, Joseph D. Maurizzo, Francis Mcaa, Martin D. McCamley, William A. Rosensteel, James F. Skupien, Joseph J. Strittmatter.
The Diocese of of Erie PA had 11 pedophile priests: Michael G. Barletta, Donald Bolton, Robert F. Bower, Chester J. Gawronski, H. Desmond McGee Jr., William F. Presley, Samuel B. Slocum, Thomas E. Smith, Daniel J. Taylor, and two un-named priests.
The Diocese of Greenburg PA had 6 pedophile priests: Dennis Dellamalva, Mark F. X. Gruber, Francis M. Lesniak, Gregory F. Premoshis, Roger A. Sinclair, Roger J. Trott.
The Diocese of Harrisburg PA had 7 pedophile priests: John G. Allen, John R. Bostwick Jr., Augustine Giella, David M. (H?) Luck, Guy D. Marsico, Joseph M. Pease, Patrick J. Shannon.
The Diocese of Philadelphia had 133 pedophile priests: Edward V. Avery, William G. Ayers, Phillip R. Barr, James J. Behan, Michael C. Bolesta, John F. Bowe, H. Cornell Bradley, Michael J. Bransfield, James J. Brennan, Robert L. Brennan, Leonard W. Broughan, Craig F. Brugger, James A. Brzyski, George B. Cadwallader, Raymond J. Cahill, Hugh P. Campbell, John A. Cannon, Paul A. Castellani, Pasquale R. Catullo, Gerard W. Chambers, Michael A. Chapman, Arthur B. Chappell, John A. Close, Richard J. Cochrane, James J. Collins, Michael F. Conroy, James J. Coonan, George A. Costigan, Nicholas V. Cudemo, John J. Delli Carpini, Edward M. DePaoli, Joseph L. DiGregorio, Richard D. Dolan, Michael J. Donofrio, John C. Dougherty, William J. Dougherty, Phillip J. Dowling, Peter J. Dunne, Ernest A. Durante, Thomas J. Durkin, James M. Dux, Charles F. Engelhardt, Francis S. Feret, Mark E. Fernandez, Leonard F. Furmanski, Robert W. Gaghan, Francis J. Gallagher, Joseph J. Gallagher, Joseph P. Gallagher, Stanley M. Gana, Stephen M. Garrity, Mark S. Gaspar, Joseph P. Gausch, Francis A. Giliberti, John E. Gillespie, Charles Ginn Jr., David W. Givey, Joseph M. Glatts, Thomas J. Grumm, David I. Hagen, Steven Harris, James T. Henry, Robert J. Hermley, Gerard J. Hoffman, Daniel J. Hoy, John F. Hummell, James M. Iannarella, Stanley Janowski, Richard G. Jones, William T. Joseph, William N. Killian, John Kline, Thomas M. Kohler, Matthew J. Kornacki, Albert T. Kostelnick, Edward P. Kuczynski, Dexter A. Lancetot, David T. Lawlor, Raymond O. Leneweaver, John R. Liggio, Joseph L. Logrip, Joseph E. Macanga, Nilo C. Martins, George J. Mazzota, Joseph F. McCafferty, Michael J. McCarthy, John F. McCole, Charles P. McColgan, Andrew D. McCormick, James J. McGinness III, Joseph M. McKenzie, Richard J. McLoughlin, Donald J. Mills, Joseph R. Monahan, John H. Mulholland, John J. Murray, Michael G. Murtha, Zachary Navit, Henry “Harry” J. Nawn, Charles Newman, John P. Paul, Stephen B. Perzan, Leonard Peterson, Terrance Pinkowski, Ted (Theodore) Podson, Robert Povish, Richard T. Powers, John D. Reardon, Francis P. Rogers, Thomas Rooney, Gerald J. Royer, Joseph F. Sabadish, William L. Santry, Martin J. Satchell, Charles J. Schaeflein, John P. Schmeer, Thomas F. Shea, David C. Sicoli, Charles J. Siegle, Edward J. Smith, Thomas J. Smith, DePaul Sobotka, Louis M. Steingraber, Michael W. Swierzy, Peter Talocci, Carmen F. Taraborelli, Joseph W. Thomas, Francis X. Trauger, Alyosius M. Vath, David E. Walls, Sylwester Wiejata, Thomas J. Wisniewiski.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh PA had 42 pedophile priests: Alvin J. Adams, Jerome Binder, Robert J. Castelucci, Mauro J. Cautela, Charles J. Chatt, Anthony J. Cipolla, M. Eric Diskin, Jason R. Dolan, Richard J. Dorsch, David F. Dzermejko, Ralph J. Esposito, John P. (Jack) Fitzgerald, Richard Ginder, James G. Ginder, James G. Graham, Bernard Joseph Hartman, William Charles Hildebrand, John (Jack) S. Hoehl, Edward G. Huff, Joseph G. Karabin, John Keegan, William Kiefer, James Kline, Henry R. Krawcyzk, John Lukasik, Julius F. May, William J. McCashin, Francis Meder, Ralph Mrvanitz, Lawrence O’Connell, George J. Parme, Francis Pucci, Edward Smith, James E. Somma Jr., Bartley A. Sorenson, Andrew J. Suran, Daniel J. Tisak, Alberta Veri (nun), John W. Wellinger, Joseph Wichmanowski, George Wilt, Robert G. Wolk, Richard “Sade” Zulu.
The Diocese of Scranton PA had 23 pedophile priests: Phillip A. Altavilla, Robert J. Brague, Francis Brennan, Robert N. Caparelli, Christopher Clay, J. Peter Crynes, Eric Ensey, Robert J. Gibson, Unkown First Name Hazzouri, Albert M. Liberatore Jr., James M McAuliffe, Neil P. McLaughlin, Russell E. Motsay, Father Ned, W. (William) Jeffery Paulish, Edward J. Shoback, Thomas P. Shoback, Thomas D. Skotek, Virgil Bradley Tetherow, Robert M. Timchak, Carlos Urrutigoity, Lawrence P. Weniger, Steven J. Wolpert.
‘It is disgusting’: Prosecutor’s outrage after Catholic priest convicted of aiding sex abuse cover-up in Philadelphia is bailed out of jail by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
‘It is disgusting’: Prosecutor’s outrage after Catholic priest convicted of aiding sex abuse cover-up in Philadelphia is bailed out of jail by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
- Monsignor William Lynn, 62, oversaw hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese
- Archdiocese helped pay 10 per cent of Lynn’s $250,000 bail
- His attorney said today: ‘He’s been in prison 18 months for a crime he didn’t commit…it’s incredible’
A Roman Catholic priest who won an appeal of his landmark conviction in the priest-abuse scandal left state prison today after 18 months behind bars.
Monsignor William Lynn left the prison in Waymart in northeastern Pennsylvania, prison spokeswoman Terri Fazio said, and was being taking by the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office to a city jail, where he would be fitted with an electronic monitoring device.
After that, he’ll be released, probably to the custody of a family member, one of his lawyers said.
The attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, declined to say where in Philadelphia his client will live while prosecutors appeal the Superior Court ruling.
Lynn, 62, was the first U.S. church official ever charged for hiding complaints that priests were molesting children. He was the point person for those complaints in Philadelphia from 1992-2004.
Prosecutors charged him with felony child endangerment. But the appeals court said the law that existed at the time didn’t cover people who don’t directly supervise children.
Lynn’s lawyers, including Jeffrey Lindy and Alan Tauber, had made that argument even before his 2011 indictment, but Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina sent the case to trial.
Lynn was sprung from the Waymart prison just hours after the Roman Catholic Church helped him post 10 per cent of his $250,000 bail.
District Attorney Williams criticized the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for putting up the money for Lynn’s bail.
‘It is disgusting that they would pay to free this man,’ Williams said at a news conference Tuesday, Philly.com reported.
Williams, who described himself as a practicing Catholic and former altar boy, said he was ‘shocked and overwhelmed’ by the decision of the church to help bail out Lynn.
The prosecutor has vowed to appeal the Superior Court decision by next month’s deadline.
‘William Lynn is no patsy. He is no fall guy,’ Williams said. ‘He is a cold, calculating man who endangered the welfare of countless children for decades by moving known predators throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.’
The Catholic church should be outlawed forthwith
JohnB on outlawing the Catholic church today
From the link: http://www.molestedcatholics.com/
Talking whilst driving with my son today and I began to relate to him some details about a foot injury I had as a child. He had come home and shown me a blister on his foot; I told him he had not spent enough time in bare feet – that was the prompt, my topic could be my right foot or how long/harmful/life distorting the repression of the day to day Catholic cover up are – its part of the healing journey and a son who smiled today when he listened to me about this – its the story of how I had to cover up the injury even though I had to have ongoing medical attention and purpose made boots it was always done in the name of something else – my injured foot which had left me with a distinct limp because I walked with my foot turned in as it had been injured seriously when the car door was repeatedly slammed on my foot on the day the priest raped me at a little church in the beautiful hills of Central Victoria – its about how every Catholic knew what the cause was and every Catholic knew I was not permitted to speak about it – they were able to assist me with my pigeon toed-ness but they were not able to help me with my injured foot due to being slammed in the lock of the car door as that was a lie that would send me to hell – that’s why other kids parents were permitted to beat you if they heard you speak about it being what it in fact was. This was a conscious campaign by every catholic in that town, nuns and priests, knights of the Southern Cross, bishops, the local Catholic Policeman, the Editor of the local newspaper included – they all knew and participated – that to me is what the cover up was and the to me is what the cover up is today – that is what Catholic parishes across the world participate in still today – that is the Catholic cover up in action. It is bigger and stronger than just the Catholic hierarchy because so many have built their careers and their fortunes on.
The part skepticism plays in helping to clarify those truths and facts of your life – you realize that your own brothers and sisters were blackmailed in the same way over this and over dozens of other crimes that had occurred and were covered up – there was a regular murmurous uproar as another instances of sexual abuse was gossiped and whispered about and some kid bullied into fear of their life until the rules of secrecy were instilled (rather this repression was the enforcement of denial into the entire catholic population.
If society does not turn away from the path of the Catholic church and if it does not freeze its assets, its businesses then the vast majority of the real crime in our society will never be addressed and the world will never have had a real chance to raise our children in a peaceful, loving and truthful environment. Lets make 2011 the year we all come together to unite in the single cause of demanding our government ceases to trade with and Catholic or religious entity until democracy is restored in our country.
There is no precedent that permits a sector of society to enact genocide on its followers on the basis of religion. That is what we have today and what we have today is insidious and at the core of the ability of society to progress in the areas of human rights, dignity, respect, individuality, freedom of expression of thought and the freedom of speech.
While ever the Catholic church continues to exist and to be able to function as an organized religion it will be in the process of enacting the genocidal practices of the religion against some portion of society and it will continue to enable wars just as any organized religion can and repeatedly to the detriment of society does. The Catholic church is our most obvious example. We can either help the Catholic church to prevail or we can help our children to prevail. For every person on the planet the real choice they have to make is whether they will support the Catholic church or will they support the children.
2011 must be the year when those of us across the world who have an understanding of this and for us to collectively demand our governments brings it to a halt and never permits it to occur again. That is a part of their moral obligation to society. Any politician who today stands in support of the Catholic church should be collectively condemned through our united and collective voices.
Make 2011 the year when you connect up with a proactive survivor who speaks clearly and directly about the needs and the means of providing the safety and the protection our children and our society need.
The Catholic church and those who follow it today need to stand back and permit reason and justice to prevail, to permit each and every person within the boundaries of their country to live with the legitimate right to live in a free and democratic country free of repression and child abuse.
The Catholic church stands condemned as a psychopathic pariah and must be rejected in all forms wherever it is not regulated and policed.
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.