In a "victim's impact" statement read in court on June 12, 2013, "Billy Doe" told Judge Ellen Ceisler, "It finally feels good to make my family proud of me."
Well congratulations, Billy. They must have really been proud last week when you were outed coast-to-coast as a lying, scheming fraud with a Pinocchio nose on the cover of Newsweek!
On the internet, reaction to Newsweek's scoop spilled across a half-dozen Google pages. Catholic bloggers teed of on the former altar boy. Conservative commentators Breitbart and Hot Air noted the Rolling Stone connection, that the same reporter who bought Billy's serial rape story in that discredited magazine also fell for "Jackie's" bogus story about gang rape at a UVA frat house.
Susan Matthews, publisher at catholics4change.com, wondered, "Why is the church paying the [$]5 million?" Oh, that was another bombshell in the Newsweek story; that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had basically caved in to fraud and paid Billy an estimated $5 million to settle his civil suit for his alleged pain and suffering. Good question, Susan. It's one that every Catholic should be asking their archbishop before they put another dollar in the collection basket.
Over at Philly mag, the self-appointed arbiter of taste and truth in our city, the Billy Doe story set off a tizzy. "Who to believe?" shrieked a sub-head in the story.
Well, let's see. On one side, the argument that Billy Doe is quite possibly a fraud, Newsweek quoted a forensic psychiatrist who examined Billy for nearly three hours. He also sifted through Billy's medical records from 28 different doctors, hospitals and drug clinics, as well as Billy's school records, along with his testimony in the criminal and civil cases.
And what did Dr. Stephen Mechanick conclude? That none of Billy's myriad injuries, both physical and psychic, were corroborated by any of the records. All of the evidence contradicted Billy.
The Newsweek story also quoted the civil deposition of retired Detective Joseph Walsh, who led the Philadelphia district attorney's investigation into Billy's allegations. Walsh testified that he questioned Billy on nine different factual discrepancies with his stories. And what was Billy's response? According to Walsh, Billy either sat there and said nothing, or claimed he was high on drugs, or told a new story.
On the other side of the argument, that Billy was telling the truth, we have Billy's lawyer, who claimed that "the science is clear" that victims of abuse typically turn to drugs and alcohol and crime. Really? Who knew that victimology was a science? Philly mag also recruited David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, to weigh in with his impartial take.
Clohessy attempted to explain away all the factual contradictions and astounding changes in Billy's stories by saying that "traumatized individuals, especially those violated as kids by adults who claim to represent God, rarely recall all the facts and timelines perfectly."
Nice rhetorical flourish, Dave. Keep pouring on the gasoline.
So on one side of the controversy, Newsweek examined all of the facts relevant to the Billy Doe case, relying on testimony from a couple of expert witnesses in the case -- Dr. Mechanick the forensic psychiatrist and Detective Walsh, who led the D.A.'s investigation into Billy's allegations.
On the other side we have some generalities pedaled by a couple of partisans that may or may not be true about legitimate sex abuse victims, generalities that have no application in a case of fraud.
Only a magazine that missed the big story for the past four years would try to pass off those two opposing arguments as equivalents. Oh but wait, isn't Philadelphia magazine the same rag that used to print Sabrina Rubin Erdely's fantasies as truthful stories before she went on to write more ambitious fiction for Rolling Stone?
Isn't Philly mag the same magazine that printed the story about the gay Mummer that turned out to be a fraud? The same magazine that trusted an idiotic sports talk radio show host known as "the Cuz" to write a story about a former Marine sniper who amazingly lived next door, a guy who supposedly killed scores of people and was haunted by the memories? And then they ran the hoax without any fact-checking? It's no wonder at Philly mag, where they can't separate fact from fiction, that they were confused by the Newsweek story.
Ironically, the argument advanced by Clohessy was also made by Dr. Berkowitz, another psychiatrist in the Billy Doe case who was paid to examine Billy in 2014 by Billy's lawyers.Dr. Berkowitz concluded that “Mr. Gallagher’s false reports of abuse” are typically common among abuse victims trying to come to terms with their experience.
Wow, did the doc tee off on Billy/Danny.
Eight days after they received Dr. Mechanick's report, Billy's lawyers folded their civil case on the eve of jury selection. It's easy to see why when you read the report.
In the Philly mag article, Billy's lawyer also claimed that his client had passed a polygraph, a claim he previously made in the Legal Intelligencer.
We'll skip over the fact that there's a voluntary confidentiality stipulation in the case that's supposed to prevent lawyers from making such pronouncements to reporters. The facts are these: When Billy Doe was deposed in the civil case, he was asked whether he had ever been polygraphed.
His answer was no.
We know that the district attorney never polygraphed Billy. We also know that in Pennsylvania, polygraphs are not admissible in civil and criminal proceedings. So why Billy's lawyers would polygraph him after he testified in two criminal cases and his civil case doesn't make much sense.
There's also the possibility that either Billy or his lawyer aren't telling the truth. Now that would be a shocker!
But let's get to the bottom of this. When I printed that the late Father Charles Engelhardt passed a polygraph test, I had the results in hand.
Let's review. On July 31, 2012, William L. Fleisher, a former FBI agent, Philadelphia cop and forensic psychophysiologist used by the district attorney and the U.S. Attorney's office, wrote a report about his polygraph test on Father Engelhardt. In the report, Fleisher said he discussing the allegations with Engelhardt before posing three key questions: