Thursday, September 26, 2013

D.A. Arrests Another Priest, But Won't Arrest Or Charge Msgr. Lynn

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

District Attorney Seth Williams announced the arrest this morning of another Roman Catholic priest, charging Father Robert L. Brennan with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault.

Father Brennan, 75, a known abuser with 20 previous alleged victims, was charged with sexually assaulting an altar boy between 1998 and 2001, when the latest victim was between 11 and 14 years old. The altar boy was allegedly assaulted at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Northeast Philadelphia, where Father Brennan  served as assistant pastor. The crimes, according to the D.A., supposedly took place in the church sacristy, the priest's bedroom in the church rectory, a storage area on parish property, and in a movie theater.

The victim in this case, now 26, came forward in January 2013, six months after a jury convicted Msgr. William J. Lynn of endangering the welfare of a child. The D.A. said the latest victim was inspired by the Lynn verdict. Lynn was the first Catholic administrator in the country to go to jail for failing to adequately supervise sexually abusive priests. The allegations in the new arrest are eerily similar to the Billy Doe case.

Meanwhile, D.A. Williams used the press conference to again attack Msgr. Lynn for not reigning in abusive priests. But when push came to shove, Williams said his office had declined to indict Lynn on another child endangerment charge, because the crime in this latest case missed the statute of limitations by 3 months.

With that statement, the district attorney abruptly reversed the course of his self-described "historic" prosecution of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In the original indictment of Msgr. Lynn, the D.A. missed the statute of limitations by 9 years in the case of one alleged 14-year-old victim, Mark Bukwowski, but that didn't stop Williams from prosecuting Lynn for endangering the welfare of a child. So why did the D.A. decline to indict Lynn this time?

If you listen to the lawyers on the other side of the Lynn case, the district attorney chickened out because he fears his conviction of the monsignor is about to be reversed by an appeals court.

"This is an excuse; that's all it is," said Thomas A. Bergstrom, Lynn's lawyer, when told of the district attorney's comments. The district attorney, Bergstrom said, didn't indict Lynn for child endangerment because he knows he can't legally do it.

The D.A.'s decision to prosecute Lynn for endangering the welfare of a child was a prime topic during oral arguments last week in the appeal of Msgr. Lynn in Superior Court. Bergstrom argued that the district attorney could not legally prosecute Lynn under the state's original 1972 child endangerment law because the law requires the perpetrator to knowingly endanger the welfare of a child. Lynn didn't even know Billy Doe.

Also, the 1972 child endangerment law was typically applied in nearly 300 cases to parents, guardians and teachers. The D.A. prosecuted Lynn after the fact under the terms of a 2007 amended child endangerment law changed to specifically include supervisors such as Lynn, Bergstrom argued. Besides Lynn, no other supervisor in Pennsylvania has ever been charged with child endangerment.

"If that's not a bugle call of retreat, I don't know what is," said another defense lawyer in the case who asked to remain anonymous.

In 2010, Msgr. Lynn was charged with endangering the welfare of children [EWOC] because of Father James J. Brennan's alleged attempted rape in 1996 of 14-year-old Mark Bukowski. [Fathers James J. Brennan and Robert L. Brennan are not related.]

The law in effect at the time said that Pennsylvania residents had until two years after their 18th birthday to file EWOC charges. Bukowski turned 18 on Sept. 23, 1999, meaning that the Commonwealth had until September 2001  to file the EWOC charges. By filing the charges in 2010, the Commonwealth missed the statute of limitations by 9 years.

The district attorney, however, argued at the time that Father James J. Brennan had been engaged in a "continuing course of conduct" that began when the priest was "grooming" Bukowski and went on for 10 years, ending in 2006, when Father James J. Brennan was removed from ministry.

The "continuing course of conduct" argument flowed from two conspiracy to endanger the welfare of children charges that supposedly linked Msgr. Lynn to Father James J. Brennan. The allegation of the district attorney at the Lynn trial was that Lynn and Brennan had somehow conspired to keep Brennan in ministry so that Brennan could harm more children. No evidence of the alleged conspiracy, however,  was presented at trial. Even pro-prosecution Judge M. Teresa Sarmina figured out there was no "there" there, and so after the prosecution rested its case, she tossed the two conspiracy charges as unproven.

A jury was left to decide two charges against Father James J. Brennan; EWOC and an attempted rape of Bukowski. The jury announced they were deadlocked on both charges on June 22, 2012, after 13 days of deliberation. The case against Father James J. Brennan is scheduled to be retried on Oct. 21.

At his press conference today, D.A. Williams began by warning that some of what he had to say would not be G-rated.

Father Robert L. Brennan "is accused of digitally penetrating the boy's anus, beginning when the victim was in the sixth grade. He [Brennan] later began forcing the boy to perform oral sex on him," Williams said. 

Brennan, who now lives in Maryland, was arrested by Perryville, Maryland, police on Sept. 25th. He was expected to go before a judge today for an extradition hearing, the district attorney said.

"A serial abuser is now behind bars thanks to the brave actions of this young man," Williams said of the alleged victim. "It takes tremendous courage for any sexual assault victim to come forward and report the horrors he or she endured."

Williams then turned his attention to Msgr. Lynn.

"The case of Robert Brennan presents another instance of abuse under the watch of Msgr. Lynn, secretary of clergy under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua," Williams said. "The actions Lynn took to shield predator priests from exposure and prosecution led to the victimization of untold numbers of Philadelphia area children."

Father Robert L. Brennan's duties have been restricted since the 2005 grand jury report that said that "Brennan had sexually or inappropriately touched more than 20 boys," Williams said. "Most of the complaints were based on the observation of archdiocese employees, fellow priests, principals and rectory workers. But the priest's archdiocese supervisors ignored these reports for over a decade."

"Evidence of misconduct by Brennan dates back to at least 1990 and 1991," Williams said, "when the principal of St. Pius X High School and the principal of the parish school at St. Mary's in Schwenksville raised concerns about Brennan's improper behavior with numerous students."

Archdiocese officials removed Father Brennan from St. Mary's in 1992, "only after the mother of a seventh grade altar boy complained that Brennan had touched her son inappropriately and forced him to sit on the priest's lap," the district attorney said.

After the complaint, however, Lynn recommended that Father Brennan be recycled to Resurrection of Our Lord Parish, Williams said. Even though doctors had warned that Brennan had exhibited evidence of pedophilia, and had a recurring behavior pattern that "presents future risk," Williams said.

When he appeared before the grand jury, Bishop Edward Cullen "acknowledged that assigning Brennan to Resurrection without restrictions "endangered the parish's children," Williams said.

"According to the grand jury's findings, Brennan continued to exhibit at Resurrection of Our Lord the same sexually abusive behavior toward adolescent boys that principals at St. Mary's and St. Pius X had previously reported," Williams said.

"Two years before the incidents with which Brennan is now charged, the pastor at Resurrection reported to Secretary for Clergy Lynn that the rectory staff had observed Brennan inappropriately touching and wrestling with several adolescent boys in the sacristy and the rectory," Williams said. "Still, Lynn did nothing. He did not recommend removing the priest from his position, and Brennan continued as assistant pastor ... In that capacity he met, supervised and abused the victim who has now come forward."

"Lynn never reported to law enforcement any, any of the many allegations he heard about Brennan," the district attorney said. "Some of Brennan's victims testified before the grand jury; others have come forward since to describe how he [Brennan] molested and sexually assaulted them."

"Yet these victims were unable to press charges because the crimes fell outside the statute of limitations," Williams said. "Thus, with the assistance of Lynn and others in the archdiocese, Brennan until today escaped prosecution for his decades-long sexual abuse of boys whom he encountered as a priest."

"Despite the applicability of the endangerment statute to Lynn and other archdiocese managers for this current victim, they are not being charged today," Williams said, "because this victim's age puts his allegations three months beyond criminal statute of limitations for endangering the welfare of a child. Only the sexual assault crimes by Brennan himself, which carry a longer statute of limitations, can be prosecuted."

After he gave his prepared remarks, Williams refused to answer any questions from this reporter, saying only, "Have a nice day."

32 comments:

  1. First of all, I question the timing of this arrest - on the heels of the September 17th Superior Court questioning and shortly before the November DA election.

    If any Grand Jury actions took place, I wonder if the DA's office is going to publicize them on the internet for perpetuity as they've brazenly done with Sorensen's faulty work.

    Crikey!

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  2. Question this all you like.

    Are you too "confused" as Chaput stated yesterday of catholics.

    Maybe if you read the charges, pray over them, and then reread them they maybe different.

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    1. No Dennis - I'm not confused. BTW - I noticed in the picture that the 'Cheshire Cat' was not smiling this time.

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  3. Do they have all their facts in order or are they grasping at straws in order to put another priest in jail? Or will the case be referred to Sarmina/Ceisler?

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    1. Grasping at straws?

      Brennan is just one of the 63 priests in the Philly grand jury report and the 169 priests that have been accused since 1967.

      You keep defending your organized pedophile cult for your god, and prepare for judgment day with the real God, who will not forgive you.

      Delete
  4. Dennis - no, I'm not confused.

    I noticed that the 'Cheshire Cat' was not smiling in this picture.

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    1. If you listen to the lawyers on the other side of the Lynn case, the district attorney chickened out because he fears his conviction of the monsignor is about to be reversed by an appeals court.

      Ralph, are the above words wishful thinking from you or a quote from someone else ?

      "If that's not a bugle call of retreat, I don't know what is," said another defense lawyer in the case who asked to remain anonymous.

      ... and once again we see another anonymous individual speaking. What' the big secret. Is there not enough anonymous on the blog.

      People are really beginning to doubt them all, but I say you would not step that low. Prove me right Ralph !

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  5. Wow! To James: "Grasping at straws"? Have you read Fr. Brennan's history? He should have been arrested much earlier, I don't see any thing farfetched about this at all. And I don't care personally if Seth Williams has another agenda or not. A guilty priest accused of molestation 20 or so times being taken off the streets and behind bars...Isn't that the REAL victory here? Where are your priorities? smh...

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    1. Catholic cult members will defend their pedophile priests no matter what. They are still trying to get Lynn out of jail, even though Lynn TESTIFIED that he destroyed evidence about 35 known pedophile priests in 1994.

      The goal of the Catholic church is to get away with evil.

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    2. Totally untrue. The cardinal ordered two underlings to destroy those files, both of whom are now bishops. You are misinformed.

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    3. Ralph, and where is the outrage regarding those two bishops?

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    4. Neil Allen is Patrick O'Malley and 617Patrick-his comments are hateful and over the top ignorant. He ignores any facts and is banned eventually from where he comments. His venom is putrid.

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    5. I've written many times about those two archbishops, both on this blog, and the priestabusetrial.com blog, and also in National Catholic Reporter. It is outrageous that they were never dragged into this and made to answer for their actions, but this DA gave them a pass.

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    6. I meant bishops, as in Cullen and Cistone; still at large.

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    7. I am here to tell you that we are the lucky diocese that gained the culprit Bishop Joseph Cistone, which is the Saginaw Diocese of Michigan. As soon as he got here, he implemented a two-year "Planning Tomorrow's Parishes" agenda, which now has resulted in reducing our number of parishes from 109 down to 56 over the next couple of years. Most if not all of the parishes were solvent, did not want to be closed, and had cash in the bank (some had loads of cash upwards of 250K and up). And believe me, the people here are either ignorant of his involvement in the sex abuse coverups, or totally enraged. But we can't get the concrete links that he's liquidating our parishes to pay for his civil ligitation fees. So many of us here would love to get rid of him, but how???

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  6. Yes, if he did what he is accused of, then Brennan should be thrown in jail for life
    But what about Lynn, Engelhardt, and Shero - 3 innocent men sitting in jail all because Williams/Ceisler/Sarmina/Hughes want their pound of flesh from the Catholic Church.
    I would love to see these 4 show this same vengeance towards those sitting in City Hall, but thats OK because due to their criminal behavior a buliding collapsed and "only a few" people died.
    Read Chaput's comments about getting information from the mass media - he said it best

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  7. I wonder how many Victims brennan abused ?

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  8. Obviously, one is TOO many, but I know you know that. As re: to Lynn, laws aside, is he innocent of not protecting children? Just don't understand how the words innocent and Lynn go together...Can someone explain why it is OK that he did not protect our children, but instead accelerated abuse by switching suspected abusers to other parishes? Please, I really need to know why...

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    1. Its first protect the money, second protect the collar. Protect the children while in their care comes on NO list at all.

      Maybe some catholics are "CONFUSED. Confused between what is right or wrong.

      It has to be spelled out that their priests cannot send an abusive priest near children so he can orally abuse or sodomize children.

      Parents who allow their children to be around ANY priest unsupervised is only spinning the wheel hoping that it does not come up on ABUSE.

      The church was out to protect an image, now look at it.

      Delete
    2. The only problem is he is in jail on a charge related to assaults that didnt happen, I don't in any way condone any action or inaction he might have shown in his role as the head of clergy. BUT Billy Doe/aka Danny or "Daniel Gallagher" as his brother referred to him in his so called letter of support (the brother who has never shown his face to support his brother in 4 1/2 years) was never assaulted, never held for 5 hours nor for 5 minutes by those men, the story is a total fabrication. Oh, and the reason for the brother's ignoring the supoena, his reason for not going near that courtroom is he is now a lawyer, he doesn't want to perjure himself to support his con artist brother, Danny at the risk of his license.
      Put Lynn in jail for a legitimate case, not an orchestrated set of lies. I have absolutely no problem with that

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  9. “…Bevilacqua testified before the grand jury that he considered Brennan’s problems “innocuous-sounding boundary issues….”

    Was the late Cardinal’s understanding here based on his Canon Law Degree perspective or his Civil Law Degree perspective?

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  10. Will be interesting to see how many stories this individual has. See it if can beat the number Danny Gallagher threw out to the DA's office and courts.

    What will the papers refer to this victim as - Billy Doe II, Billy Doe Jr., or will a man in his 20s have the guts to put his name and face out there and broadcasted all over by the the media like everyone else (i.e the accused) when a criminal accusation is made?

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  11. I can't believe this. So you are going to bash this victim now? Why? What is the purpose? Have you heard his account already? Do you know or care how hard it is for a victim to come forward. Statements such as yours, Anonymous 2:19 pm, must give you a clue. It must be like being stoned to death. Obviously, this Fr. Brennan was not guilty in your eyes? If you have facts of his innocence before this trial, please share. So many on the blog say that people are out to accuse someone just because he's a Catholic Priest. Your comment indicates that there are people out to accuse ANY victim of priest abuse. Shame on you! I truly hope that you are not denying that it EVER happened in the history of the church.

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    1. Whatever his reasoning for coming forward at this time is his own. I am saying that he should not be allowed to hide behind i.e. Billy Doe. If it was a minor alleging the abuse then I have no problem with keeping their identity hidden. Not for an adult who 8 years later has decided to step forward. His name should be included in all articles with Brennan's. This goes to the last two trials where the defendant was able to hide his identity. Daniel Gallagher, the son of James Sr. and Sheila, was able to keep his family's name and reputation hidden. Meanwhile the defendants were splattered all over the media for years. Their names and reputations dragged through the mud. Guess you think it would result in fair trials. Danny and his family were able to keep their secret hidden and out of the media. Have to wonder what would have happened or who may have stepped forward after hearing who the DA's star witness was. How many people did Danny Gallagher steal from over the years? It's guaranteed that he stole from his parents. They seem to have forgiven them as I am sure they have gotten some of the cash that Danny has already received for his faithful service to the DA. Think Seth and ADA's Evangelina Manos and Cipoletti got a little bonus from Danny too?

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    2. forgot to list ADA Patrick Blessington

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    3. And you hide behind anonymous !!

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    4. I'm sorry, I like to go by Bam

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  12. Oh, so you are going back to bashing Billy Doe, which I guess that you are saving some energy on the new victim, whom nothing public has been told about him yet. I can't wait to hear what you will say about him. Obviously, your children have never been a victim of sexual abuse, and you have no idea who hard it would be to come forward. Please don't judge him before we his account. That's all I am hoping that you will do...

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    1. This from an expert on child abuse who posts as anonymous.

      And by the way Billy Doe has a name - Daniel Gallagher.

      Delete
    2. when the star witness in the most recently concluded trial openly testifies that he was referred to his civil attorney by the DA's office, one might be a bit skeptical about the validity of the accusations when the DA"s office is helping that alleged victim in his quest for monies in the civil case.

      Anonymous, 2:34 on 9-28, the billy doe/danny gallagher case was a fraud, unfortunately unlike others that might have been abused at the hands of clergy or others in this community in positions of authority in the past, Daniel Gallagher is no abuse victim and many individuals from that DA's office, current and former know that is the truth.

      Delete
  13. The DA complains that Lynn never reported any allegations to the police, but then admits "Yet these victims were unable to press charges because the crimes fell outside the statute of limitations,"

    Are we supposed to believe the DA would have given Lynn a medal for reported allegations the police could do nothing about because of the SOL?


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  14. God bless the witness that recently came forward and had Fr. Brennan arrested. I mourn his death and his family's suffering. A very accurate quote from an Editor from Catholics 4 Change: We extend our prayers and sympathy to the victim’s family. Child sex abuse continues to shatter lives long after the crime takes place.

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