Friday, February 27, 2015

Father Andy The Sequel Opens With Tears And A Shouting Match

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

When we last saw "Father Andy" McCormick nearly a year ago, thanks to a deadlocked jury, the priest was strolling out of the Criminal Justice Center as a free man.

Today, in Courtroom 1102, the priest was back in court with a new lawyer facing the same accuser. And some long odds in a retrial.

The alleged victim in the case is a slender, gay 27-year-old business manager for a large New York City cosmetics firm. He claims that back during the 1997-98 school year when he was a 10-year-old altar boy in fourth grade, Father Andy lured the boy up to his room in the rectory at St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg. Then, according to the alleged victim, the priest locked the door, shoved the boy down on the bed, tore off his clothes, and tried to jam his penis in the boy's mouth.

Fourteen years later, the victim came forward to publicly accuse the priest. Today in court he told the jury that unlike another former 10-year-old altar boy that we know of, he's not in this for the money. That's why he hasn't filed a civil suit seeking damages, the alleged victim told the jury.

"I don't need to, I have a pretty successful career," he said. The only reason why he's doing this, he told the jury, is to make sure "another little kid doesn't go through this."

It's always an uphill climb for any priest accused of sex abuse. Maybe that's why Father Andy didn't wear his collar to court today. For the defendant, the trial got off to a rough start when the alleged victim broke down before he even got started telling his story.

At the time, the alleged victim had just begun describing to the jury the layout of the rectory where the attack supposedly took place when he started crying. Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright asked if he needed a break. He did, so the judge told the court clerk to take the jury out of the courtroom. Jurors looked startled and concerned as they were being herded out.

After he composed himself, the alleged victim told his story again, but he needed some tissues to dab his tear-filled eyes.

As soon as the door was closed in the rectory, the alleged victim testified, Father Andy attacked. He started undressing the altar boy and undressing himself, the alleged victim claimed. He was touching the boy's butt and genitals.

The alleged victim said he was frozen in shock as he recalled hearing the priest's "heavy breathing." He found himself "zoning in" on the priest's cassock, and counting all 32 buttons as the priest disrobed.

[A cassock has 33 buttons commemorating every year in the life of Jesus. A black priestly cassock was one of the exhibits introduced today by the defense, to no doubt point out the discrepancy].

The alleged victim had claimed that the attack took place on a holy day of obligation during an evening mass.

On cross-examination, Trevan Borum, Father Andy's new defense lawyer, went through all six holy days of obligation during the 1997-98 school year, trying to pin down the alleged victim on a date.

It was cold out, he claimed. But it wasn't Christmas, or Easter, or New Year's Day, when it's time to commemorate the solemnity of Mary. So, by the process of elimination Borum suggested the alleged attack occurred on either All Saints Day, which would fell on Nov. 1, or the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which fell on Dec. 8th during the 1997-98 school year.

One advantage to a retrial is that Borum could compare every fact in the accuser's story to his previous testimony at the first trial, and at other hearings in the case.

So Borum tried to trip up the witness by poking holes in his story. Such as when the alleged victim claimed at a previous hearing that he never served another Mass with Father Andy after the alleged attack.

"I was nervous when I testified," the alleged victim explained.

So you claimed at a previous hearing that you never served another Mass with Father Andy after that attack during the 1997-98 school year, Borum said, pinning down the witness. Yep, that's true, the witness said, when confronted with the transcript.

Then Borum showed the alleged victim the 2000 yearbook from St. John Cantius. There was the alleged victim in a group photo of altar boys posing with Father Andy, the moderator for altar boys in the parish.

Ever serve another Mass with Father Andy, Borum repeated.

"I may have," the alleged victim conceded.

Well, Borum said, your testimony at a prior hearing where you claimed that you didn't serve another Mass with Father Andy "certainly can't true, correct?"

"Correct," the witness conceded.

And how long did it take the priest to unbutton all 32 buttons on that cassock, the defense lawyer want to know.

"When I was a little boy it felt like forever," the alleged victim responded.

So, the defense lawyer said, according to your testimony, Father Andy is grabbing your butt and crotch with one hand while he's unbuttoning with one hand all 32 buttons on that cassock?

"Possibly," the witness said.

As the jury of 10 women and 2 men looked on, the only question that mattered was whether they saw a 27-year-old man on the witness stand getting tripped up on the details of the attack that supposedly happened some 18 years ago. Or did they see a scared 10-year-old altar boy up there who couldn't keep his facts straight because he was scared out of his mind.

So, Borum said, prodding further, you claim that after the attack you went downstairs and tried calling your mother three times, before you wound up walking home.

You told me your mother was a devout Catholic. If she's a devout Catholic, shouldn't she be in the church on a Holy Day of Obligation?

The witness looked confused on that one.

During his cross-examination the defense lawyer suggested some other reasons for the alleged victim's boyhood trauma. His parents were going through a divorce. The witness was figuring out he was gay, a lifestyle at the time that was condemned by his religion.

The witness's father took the stand in the afternoon.

The father, a painter, said when his son first became an altar boy, "He loved it."

Then, "it repulsed him," the father said, and he didn't know why.

"He wanted to quit on numerous occasions," the father said, but he told the jury how he refused to let his son quit. He want him to finish what he started.

Then he watched as his son underwent a complete personality change, the father testified.

"He didn't like to be hugged anymore," the father said. He would recoil from any physical affection.

His mother found a hangman's noose in the boy's closet. The boy had tried to hang himself as often as a couple of times a week, the father tearfully said.

Over in the jury box, the women in the front row looked like they were at a funeral.

In 2011, the alleged victim's father testified, he saw on a TV news report that Father Andy was one of 21 priests suspended by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

"He's not what you think he is," the father remembered the son telling him.

Later that same year, the son sent a text to his father at 3 a.m. explaining that "Father Andy molested me . . . That is the root of my problems."

"I was in shock," the father testified.

After the jury left the courtroom for the day, defense attorney Borum said he wanted to put something on the record.

Borum, who up to that point had been low key, started shouting at Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp. The defense lawyer accused the prosecutor of implying while she was questioning the alleged victim's father that Father Andy got suspended for sex abuse.

His 2011 suspension had "absolutely nothing" to do with molestation, Borum protested loudly.

Oh yes it did, the assistant district attorney responded, her voice rising.

Judge Bright got upset, and lectured both lawyers.

"I'm not going to have any of this," she sternly told both lawyers. The judge proclaimed that she wouldn't allow her courtroom to be turned into a circus. Then she agreed to take the dispute to the back room, presumably to settle it in the privacy of the judge's chambers.

Meanwhile, Father Andy's supporters, which included some loyal parishioners and a couple of nuns, waiting quietly for the court clerk to tell them they could leave the courtroom after the jury had gone home.

Maybe the reason Borum started shouting because he was feeling the pressure. Or reading the jurors' faces. He's got a tough act to flow.

Back on March 12, 2014, the jury deadlocked on the charges against Father Andy after four and a half fruitless days of deliberations.

The deadlock came after Borum's predecessor, William J. Brennan, was able to pull a couple of rabbits out of his hat to aid in Father Andy's defense.

After the alleged victim claimed that Father Andy had blue plaid boxers under his cassock, Brennan brought in Father Andy's 87-year-old mother to testify that she brought all of her son's underwear, and the priest only wore tighty-whities.

Brennan also caught Assistant District Attorney Kemp in a boo-boo. In her opening statement at the last trial, Kemp had accused Father Andy of acting inappropriately with altar boys. She used as an example a field trip where Father Andy supposedly took a bunch of altar boys to see an R-rated movie, What Lies Beneath.

Brennan brought to the courtroom a DVD copy of the 2000 supernatural suspense thriller starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pheiffer. Instead of an R the movie was rated PG-13.

The second time around it's going to be harder to pull off those kind of surprises.

Borum and Father Andy clearly have an uphill climb ahead when the trial resumes Monday at 9:30 a.m.


46 comments:

  1. Ralph is very correct: any priest accused of the sexual abuse of a minor has an uphill fight. It seems that any priest accused of such a horrid crime is automatically assumed to be guilty. However, in my opinion this young man is a con artist just like the Billy Doe of the Fr. Englehardt/ Sherro case. Both "victims" in these kangaroo courts are frauds. In my opinion, character counts and Fr. Andy scores high in many peoples' count. I very clearly remember when Fr. Andy was arrested and Seth Williams held a press conference, praised the accuser for his courage in reporting this priest and stated they he was sure there were many more victims of this priest and pleaded with them to come forward. No one ever did. A pedophile never has only one victim. With more than 30 + years as a priest with a sterling record, it would seem to me that it should not be an uphill fight for him but there is a bloodlust for priests these days. I just hope that this juror is intelligent enough to see the accuser's histrionic display in court for what it is:an attempt to win sympathy for a crime which never occured. I am unabashedly a supporter of Fr. Andy and my only consolation is that God alone is the just judge. Whatever the outcome of this earthly court, I am certain that in the heavenly court the innocence of Fr. Andy is known and praised by the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any priest accused...so you mean all these victims, all these cases are a sham. So the church didn't conceal or hide what they knew about more than 5,000 clergy who molested children? These are all fake? Boy oh boy are we idiots, some of these priests have been put in jail, lawsuits have been paid in excess of 3 billion and I am certain the real number is far greater. The US Bishops have paid millions of dollars to conduct studies....one of which indicated the real number of children molested by priests could easily exceed 100,000 in this country alone. Countries have launched national investigations, even the Pope has spoken about the need for real reform, has changed canon law, appointed commissions, recently jailed a bishop and Vatican envoy to the Dominican republic for the sexual abuse of children and THE WHOLE WORLD IS WRONG on this....ALL these cases are fake. All because Father Andy has character. all because only 1 man was brave enough to come forward. How many 15 year old boys do you know coming running forward to say they were raped by a priest. Particularly a very popular one that has followers LIKE YOU. That are so blind to the reality that good people can do bad things, criminal things. Maybe his other victims are afraid to come forward because they won't be believed by people like you. Martha Stewart never should have gone to jail because everybody loves what Martha can do. So she broke the law and benefited financially...we should simply look the other way. Who ever authored the shear ignorance above....I sure hope you don't have children.

      Delete
    2. Your anger makes you read more into what I said above. Of course I don't discount the suffering of the many victims of sexual abuse by clergy. I don't deny that such things happened in this country. Only a fool would deny this sad reality. At the same time I am not blinded by rage as you appear to be. Fr. Andy is innocent whether you like it or not. That is my opinion based on my experience of the man. Character does count.

      Delete
  2. Ralph, Can you please elaborate on the accuser's comment about not being there for the money unlike the other 10 year old alter boy we all know......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He just emphatically said he didn't file a civil suit because he isn't after money. This is not what it's all about. His sole motive he said was to protect another "little kid" from going through what he's been through. I made the comparison to Billy Doe; he didn't mention it. Seemed to me to be a stark contrast.

      Delete
    2. Ralph does this young man have an attorney? If so why would he need one having all the resources of the commonwealth at his disposal.

      Delete
  3. I want to know why the DA decided to retry this case a second time. Were Fr. Andy a member of any other profession than a priest, would the DA have spent valuable resources to prosecute a second time? I sincerely doubt it. I am forced to conclude that this is a "show trial" meant to punish the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for its poor handling of sexual abuse cases from decades ago as well as an attempt on the part of Seth Williams to pave the way for higher office.

    Hey, the Pope is coming to Philadelphia in September and his presence will turn this city into a world stage and with it many economic benefits for Philadelphians. Isn't it time for the mayor to reign in Seth and tell him to stop his self serving antics?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why retry this case a second time? Because our laws allow it, because there are serious charges against the defendant and if this priest did what is alleged, he belongs in JAIL. A "show trial" really? Then what do you call the proceedings church/canon lawyers have when they want to clear a cleric? Oh you wouldn't know because all those proceedings are to remain secret. This is the US where criminal and civil law mean something, perfect the system is not but for all those who want to bash the DA or law enforcement for doing their jobs, try moving to one of many countries where you have no rights. I'm willing to bet you will not feel so bad about Fr Andy having to undergo a trial. This has NOTHING to do with the pope coming to Philly because this case was to be retried BEFORE the Pope decided to visit here. Now for all the Catholics who have been horrified at the way Cardinals Bevilaqua, Rigali, and others have made a complete mess regarding clergy abuse cases...that may have something to do with why the Pope is coming to Philadelphia...to re-energize or bring back to the fold...all those faithful so scandalized and horrified by the extent of these Church Leaders efforts to conceal the whole truth from the faithful. And by the way little has changed the have just gotten better at spinning half truths. Why isn't the Archdiocese saying why Father Andy was removed in 2011. Why didn't they take this action in 2004 when they first knew?

      Delete
    2. I call it a show trial because Seth Williams has made it clear that he considers cases involving priests "historic cases." Therefore, he has a particular goal which is the advancement of his political career. When a DA holds a press conference as Williams did when Fr. McCormick was arrested in the summer of 2011 and publicly congratulates the accuser for being courageous and then states that he is sure that there were more victims of this priest and calls upon them to come forward and no one ever does....what does that tell you? It tells me that the DA is not interested in the truth. This trial is a waste of tax payers' money and a waste of value resources which should be employed to prosecute real offenders. In my opinion if the accused were anyone but a priest the DA would never have pursued a second trial.

      Delete
  4. Awww... poor "Fr. Andy." How horrible it must be for him to face his accuser! And that jury! You can tell (just by looking at them!) by their behavior in the jury box that they might consider the things they are hearing are terrible to hear and contemplate. Yes, we had better get rid of that mean old prosecutor before the Pope comes to town lest even more people are reminded of just what these Catholic "Men of God" have been doing for decades in Philadelphia!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And your point is?

      Delete
    2. With the pope coming to the states I hope the makers of the movie "SPOTLIGHT" will think it is the best time to release the movie. A movie the catholic church has failed to squash. A movie about the Boston Globe reporting that uncovered the sick secrets of the catholic church and its clergy.

      Delete
    3. My point is to highlight the ridiculous responses of the Catholic "apologists" here. The victim is just like Billy Doe... Since there has been only one claim of abuse (to date) it MUST be a lie... (my favorite example of ridiculousness!) The mean old DA is picking on this good "man of God" by trying the case a second time... (as if this is the ONLY time a prosecutor in Philadelphia has retried a case after a mistrial.) The DA is looking to punish the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the too many to count abuse cases it hid and the predator sexual abusers it protected and allowed to abuse again in it's distant past as well as it's very recent past... The DA is looking to pave the way to higher office... The mayor should "reign in" the DA and tell him to stop prosecuting this particular sexual abuse case...

      Delete
  5. Your response makes no sense as it does not answer the poster's question : if this man were in any other profession than the priesthood , would the DA have pursued the case a second time? This case boils down to one person's word against another' word. You also don't respond to the writer's valid observation that a pedophile never only has one victim.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should have read the John Jay report the bishops themselves commissioned...they claimed the majority of clergy abuse cases only involved a single victim. We do know that MOST have multiple victims but some may have only one....so how many children should be assaulted, raped and damaged for life before a predator is considered to have broken the law?

      Delete
    2. You are correct that the John Jay report does state that 56 % of perpetrators offended only once. The pertinent piece of information which you fail to include is that the victims were post pubescent males. Fr McCormick is charged with assaulting a 10 year old which would make this a case of pedophilia and pedophiles never have only one victim.

      Delete
    3. Get your terminology straight. Details like this result in the telephone game. 56% of the priests listed are -accused-. "Accused" does not equate to guilt. "Offended" does. Very few listed in John Jay have been proven to be offenders. Even fewer have been given opportunity to defend or speak for themselves.

      Delete
  6. I've seen the priest's picture on television. He looks like a molester. First impressions matter. This guy is going DOWN. Why do you think his first lawyer, Brennan, took to the hills? My guess is that he knows the guy is guilty. The Phila Archidiocese hides behind the statute of limitations to evade it's moral responsibility to the children who were raped by priests. How Christian of them. It won't be long before the Catholic religion is extinct. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well if he looks guilty why bother to have a trial?

      Delete
    2. The entire hierarchy of the Catholic "Church" hides behind the statute of limitations to evade it's moral responsibility... Moral and ethical responsibility does not seem to be important to this religious organization and their "men of God."

      Delete
    3. "He LOOKS like a molester."??? What exactly is a molester supposed to LOOK like? That mindset is not only stupid, it is dangerous. People that root out molesters for a living KNOW that appearances are deceiving, and that molesters do not have a "LOOK". That honor is reserved for idiots that post inane comment on blogs.

      Delete
  7. If found guilty I hear recently there was an opening at the State Correctional Institution in Coal Township, Northumberland County.

    I also hear they have excellent health care for pedophile priests.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Why was he suspended? If they had a big argument about it, which one was right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was suspended in 2011 after Gina Smith a former prosecutor the Archdiocese hired to review cases of clergy who were still in active ministry but had previous allegations of molestation or inappropriate behavior with minors. Based on her recommendation and a review by the review board, there were a large number of clergy suspended from ministry at that time...I think it was 27 all together. So the suspension absolutely had something to do with inappropriate action taken with minors at the least. The Archdiocese could certainly clear that up, but it hasn't and will not. Will Father Andy tell us?

      Delete
  9. The alleged victim waited 15 years before coming forward to say what happened.

    Ralph, you used the word "waited" and certainly that word, according to the definition, has a number of understandings and interpretations. I am supposing that in this context the word "waited" has something to do with conscious action (or inaction) regarding steps taken (or not taken) with respect to the alleged sexual abuse. IS that your intention when you use the word "waited" with respect to the complainant, his alleged abuse and "coming forward".

    Of course, "coming forward" is subject to a variety of interpretations as well.

    ReplyDelete
  10. No not at all. I can't read minds. Wait is probably a poor choice of words. I may fix that.

    Regarding the suspension the newspaper stories at the time said he had been suspended for possible inappropriate behavior around children. It's a shame that argument went down in the back room. We could use some clarification.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you. This "argument" should have went down in open court... Perhaps the clarification can be found in the files of the archdiocese or by putting someone from the archdiocese familiar with the reasons for the suspension on the witness stand.

      Delete
    2. It may have been just a rumor that I read, or did you ever report that he was suspended after being warned twice to not bring boys to his room and he continued bringing them to his room anyway?

      Delete
    3. With the victim, there would have been screaming and people would be running up to his room. No such thing happened and no witnesses can corroborateb the victims story, thus a circumstantial case which is very difficult to try and is more a he said she said thing. You cannot try someone in trial on boundary issues such as bringing kids to your room thus sexual assault was added to the charges to enable the trial to be held.

      Delete
    4. Ralph in recent years your reporting does not seem so unbiased as it once was, don't know what changed but you certainly like to take your shots at the victims. Are you paid or compensated in any way by any Catholic organization or a law firm or are you an independent writer? Yes YOU made the comparison to Billy Doe, someone you have vigorously tried to discredit. I don't mean any disrespect...just hoping are being transparent and unbiased....in the interest of full disclosure.

      You are certainly entitled to your opinion but I am just curious, I see this blog is sponsored by the Beasley Law Firm, do they or did they ever have any ties to the Archdiocese? Are you paid for your work?

      Delete
    5. You have to take Ralph with a grain of salt. There was a commenter hear named Dennis Ecker who brought to life the tactics of Ralph's past reporting skills. Although Ralph won a law suit against the Inky for some words that were said,basically the questioning of his bias you have now was questioned back then.

      I do believe he has a target with Billy Doe"s picture on it because he believes Billy is a liar, but one thing you have to give him is he has never altered from that feeling.

      How he truly feels about this victim and McCormick is still up in the air because he himself has not told us. Its a good question but Ralph is not on trial.

      Delete
    6. I used to be accused of being biased against the church.

      As I have said before the critics on this blog are usually members of the victims' lobby or protagonists hiding behind anonymity.

      Delete
  11. There are credibility issues in this case and that is not on Father Andy but his accuser. To wait 15 years before spilling the beans on Father Andy and to have a guillible DA taking on the case is way above the bar. Last year, a mistrial was declared after 4 days of deliberatons due to one juror who refused to join the others to convict him. Handicapping this case, I would not write out Father Andy's chances. Borum has the advantage of last year's case notes plus we do not have Judges Sarmina and Ceisler. Next week will only get more interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Never would want this defense attorney Borum sounds like a grad student.

    ReplyDelete
  13. He's not in it for the money? What's to stop him from changing his mind after the criminal trial? I'm sure that is what his parents are hoping for (different from billy doe in that money was his primary reason)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He may or may not change his mind and bring a civil suit, which is his right. A priest bringing young boys to his room even after being warned by his enablers within the hierarchy of the "Church" not to bring young boys to his room? Why, that's just "normal" behavior for these "men of God." Nothing "below the belt" (pardon the pun) about that sort of thing...

      Delete
    2. Profoundly ignorant...if the court finds that he was abused, it is his right and his decision to pursue if he so chooses. There absolutely should be consequences for those who have harmed our children. Those who have been harmed should have every right to recover for the harm done to them.

      Delete
  14. Ralph, where do you stand on this case. My sense from reading what you have written is that you believe this victim only slightly more than Billy Doe. Correct?

    ReplyDelete
  15. He seems sincere as does his family. But when you're talking about something that happened 18 years ago who knows?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ralph, I have met a few con artists during my lifetime and the one single trait which they all shared without exception was their "sincerity."

      Delete
    2. You never met Billy Doe then. A transparent hustler for sure.

      Delete
    3. Ralph-any word on where Msgr. Lynn's case stands with the supreme court?

      Delete
    4. "Transparent" to you, Ralph, but believable enough for the jury to convict based on his testimony.

      Delete
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I don't know. I have not heard a word of the testimony but would the state even bother trying a case on such thin evidence if the accused happened to be one of the hundreds of protestant youth ministers who have been suspected of seducing children. No.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's right... you DON'T know. If you haven't heard a word of the testimony, how can you say the evidence is thin? Do you have some sort of special insight or knowledge that no one else has? By the way, a child isn't "seduced" as you so ignorantly state, children are raped and/or sexually abused by adults, NOT seduced! What kind of person would say that adults "seduce" children? An apologist for pedophile Catholic priests. Repeat after me... adults do not "seduce" children, they sexually abuse them.

      Delete

Thoughtful commentary welcome. Trolling, harassing, and defaming not welcome. Consistent with 47 U.S.C. 230, we have the right to delete without warning any comments we believe are obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.

 

Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog Copyright © 2016 BigTrial.net

Privacy Policy: BigTrial.net does not distribute, share or sell email addresses, or any other personal information received from this website.