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.