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.
Accuser in Philadelphia Priest Sex Abuse Case Is Grilled By Defense Attorneys
January 16, 2013 2:19 PM
By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Defense attorneys in the latest sex abuse case in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia today were attacking the credibility of an alleged victim who has testified he was sexually assaulted by a priest and a lay teacher when he was ten years old, a fifth grader, in 1999 and 2000.
The witness is now 24 years old and came forward a decade after the alleged abuse.
The defense today suggested through questioning that the alleged victim’s story — that he was sexually assaulted by Father Charles Engelhardt in the church sacristy after an early morning mass — is incredible.
At one point, Engelhardt’s attorney, Michael McGovern, noted that the sacristy had several doors for entrance and exit, including one to the outside and another directly to the school. He asked the witness, “Wouldn’t that be a crazy place to rape somebody?”
The witness responded, “Not necessarily.”
McGovern, and the attorney for co-defendant Bernard Shero, both have cited inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s statements, but the witness has stood his ground.
The victim has also testified that he was later sexually assaulted by another priest in the same area of the church. That priest, Edward Avery, has since pleaded guilty.
Witness: After rape by teacher ‘I had to go’ to school
Joseph A. Slobodzian, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 3:42 PM
The defense lawyer for former parochial schoolteacher Bernard Shero today began trying to chip away at the credibility of a 24-year-old Northeast man who says he was sexually assaulted by Shero and two priests when he was a 10-year-old altar boy.
The witness – The Inquirer does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault – testified Tuesday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court that the serial sexual assaults by Shero and two priests destroyed his childhood and led to his life as a drug addict.
But defense attorney Burton A. Rose, showing the jury blow-ups of the man’s report cards from 5th through 8th grades at St. Jerome’s, noted that his grades and attendance barely changed during the time of the alleged assaults in 1998 and 1999.
“So you went to school the next day after this man [Shero] anally raped you in the back of his car?” Rose asked.
“It was school, I had to go,” replied the witness, who was identified as “Billy Doe” in the 2011 county grand jury report.
Rose has argued that Shero never assaulted the witness – or caused his later problems with drugs and the law.
The witness maintained that he was afraid to tell anyone about the assaults by the two priests in the sacristy of St. Jerome’s church, or the assault by Shero, who was his homeroom and English teacher.
Shero, 49, and the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 66, are on trial for the alleged assaults on Billy when he was in fifth and sixth grades at St. Jerome’s.
The other priest, Edward Avery, now 70, pleaded guilty last year shortly before he was to go on trial with two other priests in the investigation of clergy sex abuse of children in the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Avery, now defrocked and serving a 2-1/2 to five years in prison and may be called by prosecutors to testify in the trial of Shero and Engelhardt.
The pair are the last two of five people charged as a result of the 2011 county grand jury report.
Last year’s landmark three-month trial ended June 22 when the jury found Msgr. William J. Lynn guilty of child endangerment, the first church administrator convicted for a priest’s sexual abuse of a child.
Lynn, 62, who as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004 was responsible for investigating allegations against priests, was sentenced to 3 to 6 years. He is in a state prison and appealing his conviction.