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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

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Witness: Priest plied me with booze, molested me


From the link: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/147586455.html

Witness: Priest plied me with booze, molested me

By Joseph A. Slobodzian

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

The Philadelphia Catholic clergy sex-abuse trial began its fourth week this morning with testimony by a former Philadelphia man who told of being plied with liquor and sexually molested by his parish priest in a King of Prussia hotel room.

The 50-year-old man, who grew up in Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Andorra, told the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury about an incident when he was in the seventh grade.

The Rev. Thomas J. Smith had offered to take him and another boy on a trip to Hershey Park, driving a recreational vehicle borrowed from the second boy’s parents.

But the RV got no farther than King of Prussia, the man testified, when Smith said the vehicle had mechanical problems and they would have to stay overnight in a nearby Holiday Inn.

There the two boys spent the afternoon playing cards with their pastor, drinking Southern Comfort liquor and sodas.

Later that day, the man testified, Smith began chasing them around the room putting ice cubes down their underwear. When it came time for bed, the man continued, Smith told them to sleep naked because their clothes were wet.

While his friend slept on the floor, the man testified, he slept in bed with Smith and quickly fell asleep because of the alcohol he drank.

The man said he awoke on top of Smith – who was also naked – and realized they both had erections. When Smith saw that he was awake, the man continued, the priest pushed him to the other side of the bed.

The man said he went back to sleep and told no one until the incident became part of the 2005 report of the Philadelphia County grand jury report about the cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” asked Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington.

“I asked myself that question for years,” the man replied. “I think I was more afraid of getting in trouble. I was brought up to respect my elders and figures of authority.”

Though Smith continued to visit his parents and five brothers, the man testified, he withdrew from contact with the priest, whom he said enjoyed wrestling with his brothers in the basement of their house.

In questioning the man, defense attorney Jeffrey Lindy elicited the fact that the man did not come forward to authorities until 2004 – two years after Msgr. William J. Lynn, one of the two clerics on trial, left his job as the Archdiocese’s chief investigator of wayward priests.

Though not criminally charged in the 2005 grand jury report, Smith was left in his parish two years after Archdiocesan officials learned of the abuse in 2002. Two years later, after additional allegations of abuse arose, Smith was removed from active ministry.

Like most prior victims of clergy sexual abuse mentioned during the trial, Smith was not directly involved with the two clerics on trial. Rather, prosecutors have been permitted to bring in other cases to try to prove to the jury their theory of a long practice in the Archdiocese of ignoring or covering up after priests accused of sexually molesting children.

Lynn, as secretary for clergy, was responsible for investigating allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against priests. He is the first church official criminally charged with enabling or covering up such allegations against Catholic clergy.

Lynn’s codefendant, the Rev. James J. Brennan, is charged with attempting to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Both have denied the allegations.

Priest’s accuser returns to the stand, spars with defense attorney in Pa. clergy abuse trial


from the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/priests-accuser-to-return-to-the-stand-in-clergy-abuse-trial-under-way-in-philadelphia/2012/04/05/gIQAHQfFxS_story.html

Priest’s accuser returns to the stand, spars with defense attorney in Pa. clergy abuse trial

By Associated Press, Published: April 5

PHILADELPHIA — A second day of cross-examination of a key witness in a landmark priest abuse trial was marked by more hostile exchanges Thursday between a man who claims he was molested as a teen and the attorney representing the man’s accuser.

The accuser, who is now 30, testified that he was 14 years old when the Rev. James Brennan sexually abused him at the priest’s apartment in West Chester, outside Philadelphia. An attorney for Brennan continued grilling the man on inconsistencies from his earlier accounts of the 1996 incident and ticked off a list of reasons why he would lie about being abused, from financial gain to jealousy of the priest for spending too much time with the man’s mother.

“You’re going to sit here and tell me that … I put myself through this to get this man out of my life?” the man responded. “You are reaching, my man, you are way off.”

When the defense attorney stated that the accuser’s parents remained friends with the priest for years after the alleged abuse, then suggested that was because the accuser never told his parents because the abuse never happened, the former Marine exploded on the witness stand.

“Are you kidding me right now? You should be ashamed of yourself!” he yelled. “You should be ashamed, and I’m going to pray for you.”

Brennan is on trial with Monsignor William Lynn, the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. charged with endangering children for allegedly shifting priests suspected of molestation from parish to parish without warning anyone of previous sex-abuse complaints. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Many people have testified about being abused by priests since the trial began March 26, but the 30-year-old man is the first whose case falls within the statute of limitations.

He testified Wednesday that in the summer of 1996, Brennan took him to his apartment with a plan to watch movies in the evening and get up the next morning for a day of golfing. At the apartment, the family friend and man he treated like an uncle showed him online pornography, fondled himself, then got into bed with him and molested him, his accuser testified.

He said the abuse turned him from a good student with a positive outlook to a life of alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, three suicide attempts and a stint in the Marine Corps cut short by mental illness. Although the man’s name has been stated in court, The Associated Press generally does not identify people alleging sexual abuse.

Defense attorney Bill Brennan, who is not related to the priest, pressed the accuser on inconsistencies in his recollections about the type of computer the priest owned and other details of that night and the following day, which the man dismissed as “trivial.”

“He molested me, that man right there, and he knows what he did,” the accuser said as he pointed at the priest, who did not show a visible reaction.

The man also has a pending civil suit against Brennan, Lynn and other church officials, and the archdiocese has paid for his therapy and some of his bills.

“What does that have to do with him molesting me?” the man asked after the defense attorney described the financial assistance and the pending lawsuit. “It’s not about money, it’s about justice and so he can be off the street and not hurt another child like he hurt me.”

Also testifying Thursday was a 42-year-old man who said he was molested twice in 1981 by a Norristown priest.

The man, his voice cracking as he tried to retain his composure, said he was 12 when the priest assaulted him in a seminary shower and on a trip to the Poconos. He said he never told anyone because he was ashamed — even denying that anything had happened when confronted by his father, who had suspicions about the priest — until he spoke to an archdiocesan investigator in 2003.

“I took it as I had done something wrong and I needed to defend myself,” he said of the encounter.

The former Norristown priest is not a defendant but prosecutors are using the testimony about him to build a case against Lynn, who was secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004 and entrusted within investigating complaints against priests.

A 2005 grand jury report revealed that the archdiocese knew about the boy’s complaint and others against the priest, who has since been defrocked, but he was moved to six different parishes.

Although the accuser’s names were stated in court, The Associated Press generally does not identify people alleging sexual abuse.

The trial resumes Monday.

 

With church abuse trial set to open, tensions abound


http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20120325_With_church_abuse_trial_set_to_open__tensions_abound.html?viewAll=y&c=y

With church abuse trial set to open, tensions abound

By John P. Martin

Inquirer Staff Writer

Sun, Mar. 25, 2012, 6:45 AM

Msgr William J Lynn accused of cover ups in priest abuse scandals.

The neighborhood that rings St. Jerome’s Church in Northeast Philadelphia is flush with cops and firefighters, reliable Catholics in brick homes with tidy lawns, backyard slides, and a few front-door crucifixes.

That was the backdrop last year for one of the more sordid clergy sex-abuse allegations to emerge in years. A grand jury report described a 10-year-old altar boy being confronted in St. Jerome’s sacristy after Mass, ordered to strip, and engage in sex.

Not once, but three times – by two different priests – over a year in the late 1990s.

On Monday, a Philadelphia jury is scheduled to start hearing about those accusations and one that looms larger: that leaders of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could have predicted, or prevented, the attacks but instead followed a long-held practice of protecting the church and abusers within it.

The trial of Msgr. William J. Lynn, who for 12 years led the office that recommended priests’ assignments and monitored their conduct, marks the first in the nation for a church supervisor accused of covering up child sex abuse.

His arrest last year on child-endangerment charges, along with two priests and one defrocked cleric accused of molesting boys in the 1990s, stirred fresh outrage among Catholics and led officials of the 1.5 million-member archdiocese to suspend 26 priests, reexamine past claims, and vow to institute its second wave of reforms in six years.

The case has stoked national interest not because of who Lynn is but what his trial signifies. As hundreds of priests worldwide have been accused or convicted of molesting children, church leaders have consistently avoided prosecution, casting the crisis as an individual epidemic, not an institutional one.

Late last week, an eleventh-hour guilty plea from one of the defendants threatened to upend the trial. Defrocked priest Edward V. Avery admitted that he sexually assaulted the St. Jerome’s boy in 1999 and that he conspired with Lynn and others to endanger minors.

Avery is not cooperating with prosecutors, but lawyers for Lynn and the third defendant, the Rev. James J. Brennan, said widespread publicity about the plea might have tainted the jury. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said she will rule Monday on their request for a delay to pick a new jury.

If it does go forward, the trial promises more, and potentially more jarring, revelations for Catholics, with implications beyond one cleric or one diocese.

The prospective witness list includes a deceased cardinal, Anthony J. Bevilacqua, forced from a reclusive retirement for a videotaped interrogation weeks before his death; two former Philadelphia bishops implicated in the shredding of an incriminating memo; and two men who say they were plunged into years of drug abuse and crime after being raped as boys by their parish priests.

Jurors are likely to hear a drumbeat of testimony about clerics molesting children and could see thousands of pages of never-released documents about their sexual misconduct, including personnel records so sensitive that they were locked away for years in filing cabinets known as “the secret archives.”

For more than a decade, Lynn was the keeper of those files and a key officer in the local church hierarchy. Now 61, he was suspended last year from St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, where he was pastor. A guilty verdict could mean years in prison and a victory for those who have faulted the church’s handling of sex-abuse allegations.

“Did a lot of bishops do very stupid things for which they should have been held accountable and they were not held accountable? Yes, absolutely,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a scholar at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center. “Now this is a chance again to send the church, to send the bishops, a message by prosecuting somebody.”

Lynn’s lawyers have used the same theory to argue his innocence. They say the monsignor was a middle manager unfairly “hung out to dry” by prosecutors eager to blame someone for years of unchecked abuse and by bosses who scrambled, or flat-out lied, to save themselves. They say an objective review shows Lynn used “good judgment” and tried to isolate abusers from children.

Bound by a gag order, the attorneys, Thomas Bergstrom and Jeffrey Lindy, have not outlined their trial strategy or said if Lynn will testify. But at one pretrial hearing, Lindy assured the judge: “Monsignor Lynn has a story to tell.”

Simply that a trial is taking place might be more significant than its outcome, said Patrick Wall, a former priest turned lawyer and victims advocate.

Since Lynn’s arrest, prosecutors in seven jurisdictions from California to New York have started exploring charges against priests’ superiors, according to Wall.

“Any time I’ve talked to a prosecutor and I’ve brought up Philadelphia, it gives them greater moral authority to do this,” he said. “Because most D.A.s were afraid to take on the Catholic Church.”

The trial comes seven years after another Philadelphia grand jury delivered a searing 418-page report that faulted archdiocesan leaders for their handling of sex-abuse claims. But that panel said it was hamstrung by laws that limited who could be charged and required sex crimes to be reported within a few years of occurring, despite advocates’ assertions that victims often wait decades to come forward.

For the latest investigation, District Attorney Seth Williams relied on an expanded statute of limitations and a 2007 amendment that made supervisors in child-care settings criminally culpable for abuse.

Lynn, the subject of withering criticism by the previous grand jury, became the primary target of the next one. “We believe that legal accountability for Msgr. Lynn’s unconscionable behavior is long overdue,” its report said.

While secretary for clergy between 1992 and 2004, prosecutors say, Lynn endangered children by recommending abusive priests for assignments that gave them access to children. They built their case around claims by two accusers, and with help from the archdiocese itself.

In January 2009, church officials forwarded to prosecutors a complaint that its victims’ assistance office received from the former St. Jerome’s altar boy. He was in the fifth grade in 1998, he said, when the Rev. Charles Engelhardt caught him drinking wine in the sacristy, began talking about sex, and told the boy they would soon have “sessions” on how to be a man. Engelhardt assaulted him a week later, he said.

The boy kept silent, but the cleric might not have. Prosecutors say Avery, who also lived at the parish, told the boy months later that he had heard about the “sessions” with Engelhardt and planned his own. Twice, Avery allegedly molested the boy in the church.

According to the grand jury, Lynn knew Avery had been removed from a Mount Airy parish over a sex-abuse allegation in 1992 and sent for treatment at St. John Vianney, a church-owned hospital. Prosecutors say the monsignor had recommended that Avery live at St. Jerome’s and work at nearby Nazareth Hospital, and was supposed to be monitoring Avery.

Now 69, Avery was defrocked in 2006. At least two more accusers have come forward since his arrest and could testify at the trial.

Engelhardt, 65, who belongs to the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, an independent religious order, faces a separate trial. So does Bernard Shero, a 49-year-old former teacher at St. Jerome’s parish school accused of raping the same boy a year after the priests. Both argued they could not be part of an archdiocese conspiracy because they weren’t under Lynn’s supervision.

Brennan, 49, is charged with raping a 14-year-old boy while on leave from the archdiocese in 1996. Brennan allegedly targeted the boy after meeting him when both were at St. Andrew’s Church in Newtown, Bucks County. Prosecutors say the assault occurred after Lynn failed to act on complaints about Brennan’s misconduct with minors.

Defense lawyers are expected to hammer at the alleged victims’ accounts. The accusers, whose names are being withheld by The Inquirer, have histories of drug use, petty crime, and mental-health treatment. Both also have lawsuits pending against the archdiocese.

Brennan’s lawyer, William Brennan, who is unrelated, said Friday that his accuser had convictions for fraud, forgery, and theft – including stealing from his own family.

Lynn’s attorneys have targeted the law. In one of their many bids to derail the charges, and one that could seed an appeal, they contended Lynn can’t be guilty of endangering children in the 1990s because the statute didn’t apply to supervisors like him until 2007.

They also have challenged a pivotal February ruling by Sarmina, the judge, who said prosecutors can tell jurors about nearly two dozen other archdiocesan priests accused of sexual abuse over the last 40 years.

None of the others is charged in the case. But prosecutors, led by Assistant District Attorneys Patrick Blessington and Mariana Sorensen, have maintained that jurors can’t properly weigh Lynn’s recommendations for Avery and Brennan without considering what he and other church leaders knew – and how they reacted to other complaints.

“It’s always been our position that this was an archdiocese-wide policy, which in and of itself was criminal in nature,” Blessington said.

The archdiocese is paying for Lynn’s defense team of four lawyers because the accusations involve his job. Still, it is not clear if the church’s and the monsignor’s interests coincide or conflict.

Last week, Lynn’s lawyers said the archdiocese had refused to turn over decade-old letters that they said could show its lawyers guided church policy and Lynn’s decisions on sex-abuse allegations.

The defense team also pounced on what it portrayed as the closest thing to a smoking gun in the case: notes found in a locked safe that suggest Bevilacqua ordered aides in 1994 to shred a memo identifying 35 area priests suspected of sexual misconduct.

The lawyers say the memo, written by Lynn, proves that his bosses – the cardinal and his top assistants, Bishops Edward Cullen and Joseph Cistone – lied when they told grand jurors that Lynn made the key decisions about what to do with predatory priests.

Bevilacqua, who ran the archdiocese from 1988 until 2003, died in January after years of failing health. Still, he could be a crucial witness. In November, Sarmina ruled him competent to testify, and let lawyers grill him for seven hours during a private deposition that jurors might see.

In court filings, Lynn’s attorneys portrayed the prelate as a weary, sometimes confused witness. But he also is said to have clearly denied any wrongdoing and instead implicated his former secretary for clergy.

With white hair, glasses, and a stout frame, Lynn has been the only defendant to attend nearly all the pretrial proceedings. He typically comes with his sister, with whom he has lived since being suspended. While Avery and Brennan occasionally chat or joke with their lawyers, Lynn’s somber visage almost never changes.

His last public comments on the scandal came after the 2005 grand jury report, one that cited him hundreds of times, usually in a critical way. “I would never put a child in harm’s way,” Lynn told his parishioners from the altar. “I’m going to leave that to your judgment.”

Last September, six months after his arrest, Lynn drew a standing ovation during a dinner that the archdiocese’s newly installed leader, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, hosted for priests. That same month, Chaput told an interviewer: “It’s really important to me, and I think to all of us, that he be treated fairly and that he not be a scapegoat.”

Lynn does evoke a certain amount of compassion in church circles, according to Nicholas Cafardi, a canon lawyer in Pittsburgh and author of a book about the U.S. bishops’ response to clergy sex abuse. “My read of the compassion is basically, ‘He did what he was asked to do, or what he was told to do.’ ”

Still, Cafardi said, the monsignor faces long odds of getting compassion from a jury. “There is no sympathy,” he said, “for the person in the dock in child-abuse cases.”

The Evil Pope only cares about himself and his perverts


This month is sort of an anniversary for me, one in which I wish with all of my heart I could forget.

When I was 14 years old I ran away from an abusive foster home I was at and was taken by the police to the St Thomas Moore Church in Durham N.H. That night, the priest who was supposed to protect me from all harm raped me. That night, the sick and twisted pervert destroyed my heart, my soul, my life. He drilled into my young mind, over and over again, if I told anyone I would burn for an eternity in hell. He also told me no one would believe me in the first place. He raped me orally and anally. He raped my mind and my soul, my heart and my body for about an hour or more then cuddled with me like I was a consenting lover.

Yet, His High Unholiness the Papal Bullshitter and his freak bishops and pervert priests do not care one iota about us victims. But what do you expect from these low life perverts? These are the Papal Bullshitters very own words about child rape and pornography.

In his traditional Christmas address yesterday to cardinals and officials working in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also claimed that child pornography was increasingly considered “normal” by society.

“In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the Pope said.

“It was maintained — even within the realm of Catholic theology — that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a ‘better than’ and a ‘worse than’. Nothing is good or bad in itself.”
So here is this sick and twisted freak, who is supposed to be the head of the Roman Catholic Church, and leader of the Christians, stating that child porn and sex between a child and an adult is right? What is the matter with this evil prick?
In New Hampshire, we are fighting a battle. They once had a Bishop named McConnell who stood up for the victims of priest rape. Yet the Vatican and the Pope along with others had him removed and another put in his place who will better protect the interests of the Roman Catholic Church than the victims of their sick and twisted perverted priests.
I wonder how the Papal Bullshitter and his gang of perverts would feel if they were raped like this? Oh I know, they would more than likely love it, seeing the very words of this sick and twisted Pope hangs him. It shows just how much of a pedophile he is and how he stands behind his fellow pedophiles. I will actually bet he goes to bed not reading his bible, but jerking off to child porn on a puter or one of the many his fellow pedophile priests downloaded.
This Papal Bullshitter Pope Benedict and his perverted priest MUST PAY for the horror they bought to us victims. It is time for this Pope and his perverted priests to feel the pain of us victims, to feel the horror we have had to deal with. To feel out destroyed lives, our destroyed souls, our destroyed hearts and minds. They MUST PAY for their crimes against children.

Victims of Clergy Abuse Deserve Justice


Enough is enough. The victims of Clergy Abuse Deserve Justice. We the victims of the sick and twisted priests of the Roman Catholic Church and his High Unholiness the Perverted Papal Bullshitter Pope Benedict and his protectors need to be tossed into prison period. All statue of limitations and protections for these sick and twisted perverts should be immediately removed. They are pedophiles and perverts being protected under the Vatican being it’s own country and having it’s own rules and laws. Their laws state it is perfectly normal to rape and abuse a child. The Papal Bullshitter himself stated in one of his christmas addresses that child porno is considered normal as well as sex between an adult and a child.

So you people of the Roman Catholic Church are protecting your perverted priest and pope at the sake of your religion and at the destruction of the children eh? You RCC adherents are just as damn guilty as your priests, bishops and pope who covered this shit up. When are YOU adherents of the RCC going to DEMAND full accountability for what your priests and church leaders have done to children? Is it you just want to be ostriches and stick your heads in the sand and hope this scandal goes away and vanishes like a fart in the wind?

It is NOT gonna happen as long as victims of your perverted priests and pope such as I are still living and breathing.

In March of 1975 a priest at St Thomas Moore Church in Durham New Hampshire raped me. He destroyed my mind, heart, soul and body. My life has been a living hell since then. Now I am fighting back. I will NOT go quietly into that good night. I will fight these perverts to my last breath and I dedicate the rest of my life fighting this sick and twisted group of pedophiles and child rapists.