On June 20, defense lawyers for Father Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero filed motions to appeal Judge Ellen Ceisler's "excessive and unreasonable" sentences.
On June 21, Judge Ceisler denied both motions. The defense can now appeal the judge's decisions to Superior Court.
The court documents, however, lay out for the first time the details on how brutally the judge clobbered the defendants.
Let's start with Engelhardt.
The jury convicted Engelhardt on three charges: endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault, and corrupting the morals of a minor. The jury convicted the priest of a fourth charge, conspiracy, but the judge said the jury made a mistake on that one, and she tossed the conspiracy charge as unproven.
According to the defense motion, the applicable sentencing guideline range for a defendant with no criminal record for endangering the welfare of a child was 3 to 12 months plus or minus 6 months. The judge sentenced Engelhardt to 3 1/2 to 7 years.
For indecent assault, the sentencing guideline range for Engelhardt was probation to 9 months, plus or minus three months. The judge sentenced Engelhardt to 2 1/2 to 5 years.
For corrupting the morals of a minor, the sentencing guideline for the priest was probation to 9 months, plus or minus three months. The judge sentenced the defendant to 5 years probation.
The sentences were to be served consecutively.
Engelhardt could have walked out of Judge Ceisler's court with a sentence of probation on all three charges. Instead, the judge gave Engelhardt 6 to 12 years, plus five years probation. According to the motion filed by defense lawyer Michael J. McGovern, the judge's sentence "far exceeded the aggravated range of the applicable sentencing guidelines, and was, in fact, the maximum permissible sentence for those offenses."
When she sentenced Engelhardt, Judge Ceisler said the sentencing guidelines applicable in the case "shocked her conscience." The judge disregarded the sentencing guidelines because of the circumstance of the case, which is why she considered sentences "in the aggravated range," according to the defense motion.
The jury convicted Shero on five charges: rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault.
The applicable sentencing guideline regarding rape of a child for a defendant with no criminal history was 48 to 66 months, plus or minus 12 months, according to the defense motion filed by Burton A. Rose.
The "extreme upper level of the aggravated range would have been 78 months imprisonment," the defense motion says. Instead, the judge gave Shero 8 to 16 years, or a minimum sentence of 96 months, "which substantially exceeded the aggravated range of the applicable sentencing guideline for this offense," the defense motion said.
After they were sentenced, Engelhardt and Shero spent a week in solitary confinement at Graterford prison. The two inmates were then shipped to the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill, located in Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County. At Camp Hill, the prisoners will be classified and shipped to another prison to serve out their sentences.
When she sentenced the defendants, the judge approved a defense request to have Engelhardt and Shero serve their time at SCI Laurel Highlands, in Somerset, PA.