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The Catholic Church’s Secret Sex Crimes Files


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

By | September 6, 2011

Set free: Monsignor William Lynn was released from prison Thursday after winning an appeal of his landmark conviction in the priest-abuse scandal

Set free: Monsignor William Lynn was released from prison Thursday after winning an appeal of his landmark conviction in the priest-abuse scandal

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.

“All rise,” the court crier intones as the judge enters, and Lynn stands, flanked by his high-powered lawyers, whose hefty fees are being paid by the archdiocese. The implications of the trial are staggering for the church as a whole. In sheltering abusive priests, Lynn wasn’t some lone wolf with monstrous sexual appetites, as the church has taken to portraying priests who have molested children. According to two scathing grand-jury reports, protocols for protecting rapists in the clergy have been in place in Philadelphia for half a century, under the regimes of three different cardinals. Lynn was simply a company man, a faithful bureaucrat who did his job exceedingly well. His actions were encouraged by his superiors, who in turn received orders from their superiors – an unbroken chain of command stretching all the way to Rome. In bringing conspiracy charges against Lynn, the Philadelphia district attorney is making a bold statement: that the Catholic hierarchy’s failure to protect children from sexual abuse isn’t the fault of an inept medieval bureaucracy, but rather the deliberate and criminal work of a cold and calculating organization. In a very real sense, it’s not just Lynn who is on trial here. It’s the Catholic Church itself.
Engelhardt and Shero. To of the worst child rapists the Roman Catholic Church ever produced.

Engelhardt and Shero. To of the worst child rapists the Roman Catholic Church ever produced.

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.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head Pedophile Pimp for the American branch of the Roman Catholic Church and Supreme Clown

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head Pedophile Pimp for the American branch of the Roman Catholic Church and Supreme Clown

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.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

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.

From The Archives Issue 1139: September 15, 2011
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The List Cardinal Bevilacqua Didn’t Want You to See


The List Cardinal Bevilacqua Didn’t Want You to See

March 20, 2012 by Susan Matthews

From the Link: http://catholics4change.com/2012/03/20/the-list-cardinal-bevilacqua-didnt-want-you-to-see/

Pedophile Pimp, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua

Pedophile Pimp, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua

This “list of priests who have been guilty or accused of sexual misconduct with a minor according to the file material” was attached to the memo from Msgr. William J. Lynn to Msgr. James Molloy dated February 18, 1994. This is the list that Cardinal Bevilacqua ordered to be shredded.

The leadership involved certainly put the secret in secretariat and endangered countless children over decades. Our children. Mine and yours. Please don’t let this go unchallenged. It’s up to the courts and lay Catholics now. No more empty promises of accountability. Insist that the archdiocese acts on all the recommendations of the 2011 Grand Jury report.

CONFIDENTIAL

REPORT FROM THE SECRETARIAT FOR CLERGY

Diagnosed Pedophile

  1. Reverend James J. Bryski (1977) Exit in 1985 – Activity occurred more than five years ago.
  2. Reverend Nicholas V. Cudemo (1963) Restricted faculties/living with relatives.
  3. Reverend Peter J. Dunne (1954) No official assignment. – Activity occurred more than five years ago. Encouraged to seek laicization. No response to the request for laicization at this time. Living on his own in his private residence.

(Editor’s note: Peter Dunne was finally exposed in the 2005 Grand Jury Report. Good thing, too. My family had no idea there was an issue.)

 Guilty of Sexual Misconduct with Minors

  1. Reverend Edward V. Avery (1970), Chaplain, Nazareth Hospital/ Resident St. Jerome. Sexual relationship with same minor three times. Action occurred more than five years ago. (Editor’s note: as if it might clear up over time – like a rash).
  2. Reverend Pasquale R. Catullo (1963), Pastor Annunciation B.V.M. Sexual relationship with highs school junior (1968-69). Self reported. No complaint issued. Requested transfer.
  3. Reverend James M. Dux (1948) Associate Pastor, Saint John the Baptist. Diagnosed in 1965 as sexually deviated and this problem is deep-rooted and of chronic duration. Sexual advances (kissing) teenage boys reported. Pornography. Action occurred more than five years ago.
  4. Reverend Francis J. Gallagher (1973) Associate Pastor, Immaculate Conception, Jenkintown. Alcoholism and solicitation of adult males. In psychological evaluation. Self-disclosure of mutual masturbation with two adolescent boys with whose family Father had a personal friendship. No complaints ever filed.
  5. Reverend Joseph Gausch (1945) Retired. Living in Cape May, NJ. Sexual activity with young men. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
  6. Reverend Richard Jones (1963) Inactive. Encouraged to seek laicization. Living in Florida. Files indicate actions with one minor (17 years of age) and adult males. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
  7. Reverend Raymond O. Leneweaver (1962) Exit in 1980. In 1968 admitted sexual acts with high school boys. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
  8. Reverend John J. Murray (1947) Retired. In 1992, fondled a teenage girl while under the influence of alcohol.
  9. Msgr. Richard T. Powers (1963) Pastor, Incarnation of Our Lord. Had a sexual relationship with a 17 year old girl in Caracas, Venezuela while with the Society of St. James. Action occurred more than five years ago. (Editor’s note: just removed from ministry).
  10. Reverend Martin J. Satchell (1963) Health leave, Villa St. John Vianney, Downingtown. Self-reported sexual contact with teenage boys.
  11. Reverend Charles Siegle (1953) Deceased. Sexual contact with boys. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
  12. Reverend Aloysius H. Vath (1940) Deceased. Sexual acts with young boys over a period of 18 years. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
  13. Reverend Thomas J. Wisniewski (1974) Staff, Tribunal, Resident, St. Justin, Narberth. Sexual contact with a teenage boy over the period of three years (1984-1987)

Allegations of Sexual Misconduct with Minors with no Conclusive Evidence

(Editor’s Note: Conclusive evidence eventually surfaced regarding many of the below)

  1. Reverend Michael C. Bolesta (1989) Associate Pastor, St. Agatha/St. James
  2. Reverend Robert L. Brennan (1964) Associate Pastor, Resurrection of Our Lord
  3. Reverend Raymond Cahill (1947) Deceased
  4. Reverend John A. Cannon (1948) Chaplain, St. Joseph Home, Holland
  5. Reverend Richard D. Dolan (1962) Exit
  6. Reverend John C. Dougherty (1945) Associate Pastor, St. Bartholomew
  7. Reverend Stanley M. Gana (1970) Pastor, Our Mother of Sorrows, Bridgeport
  8. Msgr. John E. Gillespie (1953) Pastor, Our Lady of Calvary
  9. Reverend James T. Henry (1964) Associate Pastor, St. Patrick, Norristown
  10. Reverend Dexter A. Lanctot (1976) Faculties Restricted, resident, St. Catherine of Siena, Horsham
  11. Reverend Joseph F. McCafferty (1961) Chaplain, St. Mary’s Manor, Lansdale
  12. Reverend James J. McGinnia (1978) Associate Pastor, St. Joseph, Collingdale
  13. Reverend James E. McGuire (1970) Associate Pastor, St. Ignatius, Yardley
  14. Reverend Richard J. McLoughlin (1969) Associate Pastor, St. Bede Parish, Holland
  15. Reverend Joseph M. McKenzi (1951) Deceased
  16. Reverend John H. Mulholland (1965) Associate Pastor, St. Francis of Assisi, Norristown
  17. Reverend John D. Reardon (1973) Resident, Presentation B.V.M., Wynnewood
  18. Msgr. Charles J. Schaeflein (1949) Chaplain, Mount Nazareth
  19. Reverend David C. Sicoli (1975) Pastor, Our Lady of Hope
  20. Reverend Joseph W. Thomas (1955) Resident, Archdiocese of San Francisco
  21. Reverend Francis X. Trauger (1972) Associate Pastor, St. Michael the Archangel, Levittown.

The Catholic Church’s Secret Sex-Crime Files


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 5:05 PM ET

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.

“All rise,” the court crier intones as the judge enters, and Lynn stands, flanked by his high-powered lawyers, whose hefty fees are being paid by the archdiocese. The implications of the trial are staggering for the church as a whole. In sheltering abusive priests, Lynn wasn’t some lone wolf with monstrous sexual appetites, as the church has taken to portraying priests who have molested children. According to two scathing grand-jury reports, protocols for protecting rapists in the clergy have been in place in Philadelphia for half a century, under the regimes of three different cardinals. Lynn was simply a company man, a faithful bureaucrat who did his job exceedingly well. His actions were encouraged by his superiors, who in turn received orders from their superiors – an unbroken chain of command stretching all the way to Rome. In bringing conspiracy charges against Lynn, the Philadelphia district attorney is making a bold statement: that the Catholic hierarchy’s failure to protect children from sexual abuse isn’t the fault of an inept medieval bureaucracy, but rather the deliberate and criminal work of a cold and calculating organization. In a very real sense, it’s not just Lynn who is on trial here. It’s the Catholic Church itself.

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.

Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia


The sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, U.S., is a significant episode in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States, Ireland and elsewhere. The Philadelphia abuses were substantially revealed through a grand jury investigation in 2005. In early 2011, a new grand jury reported extensive new charges of abusive priests active in the archdiocese. In 2012, a guilty plea by priest Edward Avery and the related trial and conviction of Monsignor William Lynn and mistrial on charges against Rev. James J. Brennan followed from the grand jury’s investigations.

Cover-up by Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua

On September 21, 2005, nearly 10 years after the death of Cardinal John Krol, a grand jury, empaneled by Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, announced that Cardinal Krol was involved with the cover-up of a sex scandal against accused priests throughout the archdiocese, as was his successor 1988-2003, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. Like the sex scandals in the Archdiocese of Boston, Krol and Bevilacqua transferred accused priests to other parishes throughout the archdiocese.

Using records subpoenaed from the archdiocese, the jury examined “secret archive” files for 169 priests and two deacons. To expose the extent of abuse and a “continuous, concerted campaign of cover-up”, the jury documented 63 examples of abuse and where the abusers were assigned at the times of those attacks. The grand jury also demonstrated that nobody could be prosecuted due to Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations and other conditions that protect the archdiocese from being criminally accountable.[1]

Three weeks into the 2012 Lynn trial, The Philadelphia Inquirer editorialized that “the clear outlines of an alleged cover-up … as far up as” Bevilacqua had already emerged in the testimony.[2] While the judge compelled the cardinal to testify in a closed hearing in November, 2011, before the trial, neither the prosecution nor the defense used any of the testimony in the trial. The cardinal died in January, 2012.[3]

Role of Cardinal Rigali in 2005

Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali adopted the policy of defrocking those who were accused and confirmed by investigations. Cardinal Rigali, in cooperation with District Attorney Abraham and other district attorneys throughout the archdiocese, started the practice of both internal archdiocesan investigations, as well as external criminal investigations.

Cardinal Rigali staunchly defended the actions of his two predecessors, Krol and Bevilacqua, when they were named as sponsors of a cover-up by the September, 2005, grand jury

Actions of Bishop Cistone

According to the 2005 investigation, while serving as assistant vicar for administration in 1996, Joseph R. Cistone was involved with silencing a nun who tried to alert parishioners at St. Gabriel parish about abuse by a priest. According to the report, there were several other instances of priest sexual abuse which Cistone was complicit in covering up. The report also indicated that Cistone was most concerned with the public relations ramifications of the sexual abuse. The report also showed that when a sex abuse victim demanded to meet with Cardinal Bevilacqua, Cistone refused the request, saying that allowing a sex abuse victim to meet with the Cardinal would “set a precedent. When these revelations became public, Cistone expressed sorrow for “any mistakes in judgment.”[4] However, Cistone refused to discuss the matter further, saying, “[I]t would not serve any purpose to revisit the grand jury report and endeavor to recall the rationale for past decisions made in specific cases.”[5][6]

Aftermath in Saginaw, Michigan

A week after being named to lead the Diocese of Saginaw, Cistone was asked by a mid-Michigan newspaper reporter about the grand jury investigation and his reported role in covering up instances of sexual abuse. Cistone expressed unhappiness with how little opportunity he had been given to respond to the report, saying, “Unfortunately, the grand jury procedure, as followed in Philadelphia, did not allow for any opportunity to address such questions to offer explanation or clarification.” Cistone also expressed surprise that he had not been questioned about the grand jury report during his introductory press conference and told the reporter, “Had it come up, I certainly would have addressed it.”[6]

On June 9, 2009, a group of survivors of clergy abuse protested Cistone’s appointment outside the Saginaw Diocese office. Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) demanded that Cistone hold a public forum to explain his actions as described in the 2005 grand jury report. SNAP President Barbara Blaine said the actions had to be taken because, “the innocence of children was shattered needlessly because of the action and inaction of this bishop.” In response to the group’s calls for transparency, Cistone said, “If someone wants to go back and rehash what the church may have done based on knowledge and experience or lack of experience the church had, well, that’s OK, but that’s not productive. What’s productive is what we can do to move forward.”[7]

John McDevitt affair

A 2009 suit claims that Rev. John McDevitt, a religion teacher at Father Judge High School for Boys, abused Richard Green for six months in 1990 and 1991, according to a report by the New York Post. At the time, the victim’s uncle, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor, served as archbishop of New York.[8]

Use of the penile plethysmograph

During the abuse scandal, the reliability of the penile plethysmograph was questioned by some officials in the archdiocese of Philadelphia. Later, these officials chose to seek therapy at an institution where the plethysmograph was not used. This, even though the officials were made aware of the fact that the test was used by most experts and was believed to be of value in diagnosing sexual disorders. Later, a Grand Jury found that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s decision to do so “had the effect of diminishing the validity of the evaluations and the likelihood that a priest would be diagnosed as a pedophile or ephebophile.” [9]

Mary Achilles hired by archdiocese

“In 2006, the Archdiocese hired Achilles, the state’s first victim advocate, to review its treatment of victims after a 2005 grand-jury report highlighted abuse by more than 50 priests over 50 years.”[10] Achilles, among other involvements in the field, has worked on the subject of restorative justice with Professor Howard Zehr of Eastern Mennonite University.[11]

2011 grand jury

A second grand jury, in February, 2011, accused the Philadelphia Archdiocese, still under Cardinal Rigali, of failing to stop the sexual abuse of children more than five years after the first grand jury report had documented abuse by more than fifty priests.[12] The 2011 grand jury report said that as many as 37 priests were credibly accused of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior toward minors. Rigali initially said in February “there were no active priests with substantiated allegations against them, but six days later, he placed three of the priests, whose activities had been described in detail by the grand jury, on administrative leave. He also hired an outside lawyer, Gina Maisto Smith, a former assistant district attorney who prosecuted child sexual assault cases for 15 years, to re-examine all cases involving priests in active ministry and review the procedures employed by the archdiocese.” Three weeks later, most of those 37 priests remain active in the ministry. Terence McKiernan, the president of BishopAccountability.org, which archives documents from the abuse scandal in dioceses across the country, said “‘[T]he headline is that in Philadelphia, the system is still broke.’ David J. O’Brien, who teaches Catholic history at the University of Dayton, said, ‘The situation in Philadelphia is “Boston reborn.”‘”[13]

The appointment of Smith, the new outside lawyer for the archdiocese and a partner with the Ballard Spahr law firm, was criticized by SNAP’s executive director, David Clohessy, who said “No lawyer or consultant is independent in any way, if they’re picked and paid by Rigali. He can bring in a dozen more lawyers, but if he does what he did five years ago with the expert child-safety consultant and ignores every single recommendation, it’s just going to be more empty promises and public relations.” Clohessy was referring to the work of Mary Achilles. The 2011 grand jury found that “archdiocesan officials ignored all of Achilles’ initial recommendations” …. Rigali hired Achilles again last week to perform the same service,” according to one report. District Attorney R. Seth Williams said he respected Rigali’s choice of Smith to lead the case review.[10]

One commentator, Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, concluded, “Out of the church’s many unpleasant confrontations with modernity, this is the starkest. It’s tragically past time to send the message that priests can’t do anything they want and hide their sins behind special privilege,” and credited Philadelphia and District Attorney Williams with starting to send that message.[14]

Legal proceedings

Edward Avery guilty plea and sentencing

In March, 2012, “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 Philadelphia 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.”[15]

Two of Avery’s victims testified to the Common Pleas Court jury in the William Lynn trial in April, 2012. Lynn’s alleged crime is not taking adequate action against Avery after having heard an accusation against Avery in 1992. Together the testimony of the two “represented a pillar of the landmark conspiracy and endangerment case prosecutors are trying to prove against” Lynn.[16]

William Lynn and James Brennan trial

Msgr. William Lynn, the pastor of St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, was arrested in February, 2012, indicted in mid-March and, more than a week after the indictment, put on administrative leave by the Archbishop Rigali. “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 is innocent and a victim of excessive zeal on the part of the District Attorney’s Office, his lawyer, Jeff Lindy, said after his arrest.”[17] Lynn became the “most senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to be tried on charges relating to the child sexual abuse scandal”[18] and “the first U.S. church official ever charged with endangering children for allegedly failing to oust accused predators from the priesthood or report them to police”.

Lynn and Rev. James J. Brennan went on trial in late March, 2012. Brennan is accused of the 1996 rape of a 14-year-old boy. The trial was to have included Edward Avery before Avery’s guilty plea.[2]

As the trial opened, Lynn and another of his attorneys, Thomas Bergstrom, were “insisting that [Lynn] tried to address the long-brewing sexual-abuse problem when he served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. [Deceased Cardinal] Bevilacqua and other superiors quashed his efforts …. The jury on Tuesday saw a 1994 list Lynn prepared that named 35 accused priests still on duty in the five-county archdiocese. Avery was on it [and a major subject on the opening day], and deemed ‘guilty’ of the abuse. The list also shows whether the archdiocese could still be sued over each allegation. Bevilacqua ordered that the list be shredded, although a copy survived”.[19]

The court heard Lynn testify on April 19, 2012, that the case of Rev. Stanley Gana “fell through the cracks” due to a job change. “A seminarian in 1992 told Lynn and Lynn’s boss, the late Monsignor James Malloy, that he [the seminarian] had been raped throughout high school by … Gana. The seminarian, who testified in person this week, gave Lynn and Malloy the names and parish of two other potential victims” but they made no contact with the victims. “Malloy told Gana to avoid contact with the seminarian because the allegations, if true, might be criminal. Lynn agreed with the assessment, according to his testimony. Asked why he didn’t notify police, Lynn testified: ‘Because we weren’t required to.'” They did question Gana, who denied the charges. He remained as pastor at Our Mother of Sorrows in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania until 1995; moved to Florida and garnered further abuse inquiries back to Philadelphia from there; and “is 69 [but i]t’s not clear where he’s living”, said the AP report, which also detailed the testimony on the extent and nature of the priest’s, and his superiors’, behaviors and actions.[20]

On April 25, 2012, two of Avery’s victims testified, “represent[ing] a pillar” of the case against Lynn.[16]

“[T]housands of confidential church records and years of abuse complaints against priests in the five-county archdiocese[, many of which] had been locked away for years in the so-called Secret Archives, church files that cataloged misconduct by priests”, also came to light in the trail.[3]

On June 22, 2012, Monsignor William Lynn was convicted of one of two child endangerment charges, and acquitted of a single count of conspiracy. Had he been convicted of all three charges, he would have faced 10 to 20 years in prison.[21][22] Lynn was sentenced to three to six years in prison.[23] This was the first time a Catholic church official serving in an administrative position in a diocese was convicted in the United States for covering up child sexual abuse by priests; efforts have been made to indict U.S. Bishops as well, though prosecuting them would be more difficult, since they are viewed by the Vatican as being administrative extensions of it as well as overseers in their own right, despite being U.S. citizens.[24] The jury deadlocked on attempted rape and endangerment charges against Brennan and Judge M. Teresa Sarmina declared a mistrial on those charges.[3]

Prosecutors said in late June they planned to retry Brennan.[25]

Following arguments for lenient[26] and stiff[27] sentencing, Lynn was sentenced to three to six years in state prison. Judge Sarmina said he had “turned a blind eye while ‘monsters in clerical garb’ sexually abused children and devastated the church and community”. The sentence was just short of the maximum and well above what the defense favored.[28]

Engelhardt and Shero trial

Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former parochial school teacher Bernard Shero are being tried separately William Lynn because they did not report to Lynn.[15] They were both, with Avery, associated with St. Jerome’s parish. In September 2012, their trial was due to start[29] but then postponed due to a family emergency for one of the defense attorneys. The two have been charged with rape, indecent sexual assault and other criminal charges in decade-plus-old assaults. Their primary accuser was called “Billy” in the 2011 grand jury report and he will be the key witness against the men.[30] It has been rescheduled to begin January 2013 and transferred, due to the rescheduling, from Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to the court’s Judge Ellen Ceisler.[31]

Penitential service and other aftermath

In March, 2011, Rigali invited Catholics to a special Stations of the Cross penitential service at the Philadelphia cathedral.[33] The purpose of the service, he wrote in his Lenten letter, was ‘the forgiveness of all sins and reconciliation with God and in the community.’ However, The Economist reported SNAP’s “cynical” opinion “that it took two harsh grand-jury reports and four indictments to get a ‘prince of the church to finally temporarily take more predator priests away from kids.'”[34]

Also in March, 2011, reports emerged about an October, 2003, form which had been apparently used by the archdiocese to prevent archdiocesan officials from reporting some information about alleged sex abuse by clergy to civil authorities. Any individual reporting alleged abuse by Church personnel was required to sign the form.[35]

Only fifty people showed up at the penitential service, Michael Sean Winters reported he had heard, in a commentary in the National Catholic Reporter. He went on to opine: “If any more evidence were needed that Cardinal Rigali is not in a position to heal the harms his lax oversight have permitted, there it is.” Winters also addressed the newly revealed “somewhat bizarre” reporting form:

“This is the kind of form used to intimidate victims. … [U]ntil I saw this document, and considered the circumstances in which it might be employed, it had never occurred to me really how much the chancery officials trying to cover-up sex abuse were, albeit without the sexual prurience, doing exactly what a pedophile-predator does: Confront someone vulnerable, make them do something they don’t want to do and that is not good for them, and then tell them they can’t tell anyone. Intimidation. Shame. Secrecy. These are not the tools one needs for healing and conversion.”[36]

Another commentator for NCR, Richard McBrien, a personal acquaintance with Rigali’s, drew attention to the failure of Rigali to live up to the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. McBrien went on to note that in his opinion, relative to the second grand jury report, Rigali had “made an unfortunate mistake in fundamental logic by making a universal negative assertion that could be rebutted by even a single case to the contrary … [by] denying the allegation that there were other abusive priests still at work in the Archdiocese … [when] [s]oon thereafter he removed twenty-one priests.” He also noted the parallels with Cardinal Bernard Law‘s stance and actions in Boston in 2002.[37]

Resignation of Rigali and appointment of Chaput

In July, 2011, the Holy See accepted Rigali’s resignation, which he had tendered in 2010 when he reached age 75, in accordance with the Code of Canon Law. He “offered an apology ‘if I have offended’ and ‘for any weaknesses on my part,’ but said he saw no particular connection between the timing of the Vatican accepting his resignation and turbulence” over the February grand jury report. Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was named to succeed Rigali.[38]

More reaction

In late July, 2011, Robert Huber at Philadelphia magazine published a 7,630-word article which opened with Rigali’s question “Is it true?” about the 2011 grand jury report. It moved on to ask “Will the Catholic Church as we know it survive in Philadelphia?” as he began to tell the story of Joe, a 59-year-old [39] who spoke of his abuse at the hands of Father Schmeer when in the ninth grade at Roman Catholic High School. Joe spoke this summer to “fellow parishioners at his church—St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Manayunk. The leader of Joe’s men’s group and a victims advocate for the archdiocese set up the meeting. Perhaps 30 people came. Joe discovered something, after he spoke, that shocked him. It was that other people saw him as a hero.”[40] The piece concluded with a critique from Donna Farrell, writing on behalf of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which began: “Unfortunately for Philadelphia magazine readers looking for honest, in-depth reporting, this piece is an agenda-driven travesty of salacious innuendo masquerading as journalism.” Farrell said Huber had been given access to Achilles and Smith but “chose to omit these perspectives from his piece” and hence missed the “significant steps” the archdiocese had taken to rectify the situation. This left the piece “sensational, wildly unfair, and incomplete.”[39] Farrell is the director of communications for the archdiocese.[41] Readers also endorsed and critiqued the article in comments.[39]

As the William Lynn trial proceeded in mid-April, 2012, The Philadelphia Inquirer led an editorial: “Three weeks into a likely months-long landmark clergy sex-abuse trial, a Philadelphia jury already has seen the clear outlines of an alleged cover-up by Archdiocese of Philadelphia officials as far up as Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua.” After detailing numerous testimonies of abuse, the editorial continued: “Both Lynn and [James] Brennan deny the allegations. Whatever the eventual verdicts, testimony likely will have removed all reasonable doubt as to the cover-up’s existence, and the need for reform.” Specifically, the paper went on to say: “Harrisburg lawmakers need to act on proposals still being fought by the state’s Catholic bishops — most vocally by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput — that would waive civil statutes for a brief period to allow those victims to seek justice. As done in Delaware and California, a so-called “civil window” would further expose the abusers’ dirty secrets and help lead to healing in the church, and beyond. State legislators need not await a jury verdict to do the right thing by abuse victims.”[2]

References

1

Bishop of W.Va. Catholic diocese accused of abuse


from the link: http://www.dailymail.com/News/201204180090

Wednesday April 18, 2012
Bishop of W.Va. Catholic diocese accused of abuse

A witness in a Philadelphia clergy sex abuse trial told jurors Wednesday his abuser told him more than 30 years ago Bishop Michael Bransfield had had sex with a boy. The witness said his abuser also sexually assaulted him at Bishop Michael Bransfield's New Jersey beach house.

 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A witness in a clergy sex-abuse trial in Philadelphia testified that he was sexually assaulted in a home owned by West Virginia’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Bishop Michael Bransfield, and said he was told by his abuser that Bransfield had assaulted another boy.

The 48-year-old witness was on the stand Wednesday when he gave the testimony about Bransfield.

The man was testifying in a criminal trial against Monsignor William Lynn, who is accused of covering up sex abuse allegations for the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Bransfield has not been charged with a crime.

The testimony came one day after news reports that prosecutors were having trouble getting Monsignor Kevin Quirk, Bransfield’s aide, to testify.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington said Tuesday that Quirk had agreed to testify in Philadelphia but had to notify Bransfield first. Then the process stalled.

The witness told the jury he saw Bransfield bring several boys to a farm owned by Stanley Gana, a former priest in the diocese, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The witness told the jury the alleged incident occurred at Gana’s Scranton, Pa., farm more than 30 years ago. He was building a flagstone wall when then Rev. Bransfield pulled up in a car with several teenage boys.

The man said Gana told him Bransfield was having sex with one of the boys.

The 68-year-old Bransfield, a Philadelphia native, was installed as the head of the West Virginia diocese in 2005, replacing Bishop Bernard Schmitt, who retired in 2003.

Bransfield came to this state from his position as the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Bryan Minor, spokesman for the diocese, said that Bransfield was not available Wednesday and that he had yet to speak with him about the allegations.

“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is learning of media reports originating from legal proceedings underway in Philadelphia, and Bishop Michael Bransfield’s name was brought up in court today,” Minor said in a statement.

“Until such time that the facts and issues surrounding this testimony are made fully known to the Diocese, we cannot comment at this time.”

The diocese on Tuesday called the trial a “circus” and said Philadelphia prosecutors were trying to smear people who have never been charged with a crime.

Monsignor Edward Sadie, rector of the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston, had not heard about the testimony concerning Bransfield Wednesday.

“I just find this beyond belief,” Sadie said. “I just hope and pray it’s not true.”

Sadie said Bransfield has been “very diligent” in keeping church officials and parishioners looking out for “deviant behavior” involving children at the church.

He said all church officials and the parishioners who work with children are taught what to look for and are made aware of how and where they should report abuse.

“We have a very strong policy,” Sadie said. “He’s been very diligent in pushing that policy.”

The witness told the jury Gana raped him for years and that Gana and Bransfield were close friends. He said Gana once sexually abused him during a visit to Bransfield’s New Jersey beach house.

Another witness testified that Bransfield had a lewd conversation with him.

Bransfield was ordained in 1971 by the late Cardinal John Krol. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gana was ordained about the same time.

The testimony comes four weeks into the prosecution of Lynn, who is the first U.S. church official ever to be charged over the handling of abuse complaints. Lynn served as the secretary for clergy in Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004 and supervised more than 800 priests.

Prosecutors alleged that Lynn allowed dangerous priests to work with children in the parish to protect the church’s reputation.

The church also is accused of keeping secret files dating back to 1948 that allegedly show a long-standing conspiracy to protect priests and cast doubt on sex-abuse victims.

Lynn’s attorney maintained that Lynn’s job was to oversee the sex abuse complaints but that another man, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who has since died, solely determined priest assignments and transfers.

If convicted, Lynn could serve 28 years in prison.

The other defendant in the trial is the Rev. James Brennan, who is accused of raping a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Quirk’s testimony was sought because he served as a judge for the church’s in-house trial of Brennan in 2008. Prosecutors wanted him to testify about the accuracy of statements Brennan made during that trial.

Defrocked priest Edward Avery was the third defendant in the trial but pleaded guilty early on. Lynn and Brennan both pleaded not guilty.

Avery’s plea acknowledged that he was kept in the ministry despite an earlier complaint, for which he underwent therapy. He sexually assaulted an altar boy seven years later, he said.

Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina agreed to take up the matter with court officials in Wheeling.

Bransfield has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in divinity from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania. He served as assistant pastor at St. Albert the Great Parish in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., from 1971 to 1973. He received a master of philosophy degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1973.

He served as a teacher, chaplain and then chairman of the religion department at a Catholic school in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

He currently serves as president of the Papal Foundation of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and is the treasurer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bransfield also is a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

An official with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on Bransfield to address the allegations Wednesday.

Judy Jones, Midwest director of SNAP, said that in light of the day’s testimony, Bransfield, not his lawyer or representative, should address the allegations immediately. She also wants him to agree to be questioned on the allegations.

“This isn’t rocket science,” Jones wrote. “For starters, there are three simple questions Bransfield should answer: Did or does he own a house with Philly’s Father Gana? If so, did he take boys there? And did he molest any of them?

“This notion that Bransfield somehow can’t respond to the testimony today in Philly, as his lawyer claims, is bogus.”

Jones also took issue with Bransfield’s apparent refusal to send Monsignor Quirk to Philadelphia.

“Msgr. Kevin M. Quirk has a sworn obedience to Bransfield,” Jones wrote. “Bransfield can order Quirk to appear in court. Bransfield should do that immediately. If he doesn’t, that will only add to the doubts about Bransfield.”

Founded in 1988, SNAP is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. It has more than 12,000 members.