At 10:15 a.m. this morning in Courtroom 1102, Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright read the details of the sex crimes that Father Andrew McCormick is charged with.
The jury, beginning their second day of deliberations, had asked the judge for a read back on the charges.
Judge Bright began with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, which in this case allegedly involved oral sex with a minor. "The slightest degree of penetration is sufficient," the judge told the jury. "He does not have to emit any semen." It took the judge ten minutes to detail the elements of that crime and four other charges against the priest: sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault of a child, and corrupting the morals of a minor.
In the second row of the courtroom, four nuns in full habits weren't listening to the gory details. Instead, with rosary beads in hand, they were silently praying for "Father Andy."
"It's atrocious to have it associated with him," Sister Jacinta Miryam Hanley said of the sex crimes that Father Andy is accused of. The alleged victim in this case is a former 10-year-old altar boy who said that 17 years ago, Father Andy assaulted him in the rectory of St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg.
When the jury left the courtroom to deliberate, the nuns continued their prayer vigil outside in the hallway with Father Andy on the 11th floor of the Criminal Justice Center. The nuns, who were saying the rosary, were joined by other supporters of the priest. One nun read prayers aloud; others had their heads bowed and they chanted, "Pray for us."
Meanwhile, the alleged victim in the case, now 26, walked by the prayer group several times with his family. He looked straight ahead, and did not even glance at the nuns who were praying with the priest who had allegedly abused him.
Sister Jacinta Miryam Hanley is the provincial superior of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It's a Franciscan order based in Krakow.
Sister Jacinta is assigned to a convent in Cresson, Pa. It took her four and a half hours to drive in today to attend Father Andy's trial. Other nuns from the same order came from St. John Cantius, and Wilmington.
Sister Jacinta has known Father Andy for 17 years. She conceded Father Andy may look awkward at times but he's "just a genuine priest," she said. "He loves his priesthood, he loves God. He loves to share that with others."
"We pray that God will allow him to be vindicated," she said. "We pray that God will give him the strength to bear this cross."
The priest, she said, knows he's innocent. That's why he turned down a proposed plea deal with the district attorney's office that would have given him a minimal prison sentence. The priest, who has lost a lot of weight, has turned his fate over to God, the nun said. He knows that at any minute if the jury comes back with a guilty verdict, he'll be placed in handcuffs and hauled off to jail.
"Every day he hands his keys and his phone to his sister," Sister Jacinta said. The priest tells his sister if the sheriff's deputies take him into custody, "Let Mom and Dad know I love them."
The nun said that although she prays Father Andy is vindicated, she knows that there are many victims out there who have suffered the pain of sex abuse at the hands of priests. Father Andy, she said, also knows that as a member of the body of Christ, he may be called upon to share in the suffering of those victims.
Sister Jacinta insists Father Andy is a chaste individual who gets embarrassed easily. He frequently turned red at the subject matter discussed in Courtroom 1102.
"When he [Father Andy] finally heard what he was was accused of, he couldn't even repeat it to us," the nun recalled.
The nuns, however, aren't just praying for Father Andy. They're also praying for the alleged victim and his family.
"We don't doubt he probably was abused," the nun said. "We believe it was not Father Andy."
But she said, it's clear to her that the alleged victim is suffering, and so is his family.
"There's real pain there," she said.
In the courtroom, the alleged victim, rail thin, sat behind the prosecution table, flanked by his mother, father, and grandfather. The grandfather is a retired detective from the Philadelphia Police Department and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. He took the first statement from the alleged victim.
The grandfather is a veteran cop who made it clear to reporters in an extremely polite way that he doesn't have anything to say. He's just there to support his grandson. Of course, he hopes the truth will come out, and that his family will be healed. But he isn't there to make headlines.
Father Andy has the nuns in his corner. The alleged victim has two supporters who know all about the pain of sex abuse. They are two fathers who lost their sons after they were sexually abused by priests. And like the grandfather in this case, they're not going out of their way to talk to reporters.
One of those fathers, however, had tears in his eyes today as he talked about how he watched his wife cry after she looked at pictures of her son.
He can't even look at those pictures, the father said.
At 3:45 p.m. today, the jury called it quits without reaching a verdict.
"I think the jury's torn,"Sister Jacinta said.
The judge told the jurors they were dismissed for the day.
"Enjoy your evening," she said.
When the jury had left the building, the alleged victim's family and supporters were asked to leave the courtroom first. After they cleared out, Father Andy left with his supporters by a separate entrance.
The court crier warned courtroom spectators not to linger in the hallway.
Deliberations resume at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.