At 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 5th, retired Detective Joseph Walsh is scheduled to appear under subpoena as a witness in the courtroom of Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright.
At the Jan. 5th hearing, defense lawyer Thomas A. Bergstrom will get to question Walsh on his investigation of Danny Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe;" specifically on Walsh's continued questioning of the former altar boy that wasn't reported to defense lawyers.
Judge Bright is presiding over the retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn, scheduled for May 1, 2017. Bergstrom is trying to use the testimony of retired Detective Walsh to prove prosecutorial misconduct in support of a defense motion to dismiss the case.
This is patently ridiculous. The facts of the Lynn case have been known for six years, since the release of the 2011 grand jury report. That report has been discredited on this blog for containing more than 20 factual errors, and in many cases, blatant rewrites of sworn grand jury testimony to fit a preconceived story line cooked up by the D.A.'s office.
It's a story that has been all over the cover of Newsweek. Yet six years into the case, and nearly six months before the retrial, Judge Bright decides to gag the lawyers in the case from talking about it. And holding pre-trial arguments in chambers rather than doing the court's business in public.
Msgr. Lynn was convicted by a jury in 2012 on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Danny Gallagher, but that conviction was overturned in 2015 by an appeals court.
In motions filed last week, Bergstrom stated to the court that he and Jeffey Ogren Esq., who represents another jailed defendant in the Billy Doe case, former school teacher Bernard Shero, "interviewed Walsh on Nov. 29, 2016."
"During that interview, Walsh provided exculpatory evidence as to both defendants, Lynn and Bernard Shero -- evidence that was not disclosed to counsel prior to Lynn's first trial and is clearly exculpatory," meaning it helps the defense.
"It is clearly in the interest of justice that Walsh's testimony be taken pre-trial," Bergstrom wrote. "Walsh expressly agreed to testify should he be subpoenaed."
It was the testimony of Billy Doe that sent three priests to jail, including Lynn, as well as former teacher Shero, who is doing 8 to 16 years for supposedly abusing the former altar boy. But, as revealed in his extensive medical records, civil depositions and lengthy interviews with two psychiatrists, Danny Gallagher is a transparent fraud.
Lynn, the archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, served 33 months in jail, plus 15 months of house arrest before his conviction was overturned by an appeals court.
Here's what Bergstrom wants to ask Walsh about.
In a deposition in a civil case that Danny Gallagher filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Walsh expressed doubts about Gallagher's credibility. In a deposition taken Jan. 29, 2015, Walsh testified that when he questioned Gallagher about nine factual discrepancies in Gallagher's story, Gallagher usually just sat there and said nothing. Or claimed he was high on drugs. Or told a different story.
None of this continued questioning of Gallagher by Walsh was ever reported to the defense.
After Judge Bright set the date for the hearing for Walsh to testify, she told Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington back in open court, "Alright, we'll deal with all this in January."
After court was over, I asked the judge's clerk about how the judge could place a gag order on such a highly-publicized case where just about all the facts were known.
"She'll never talk to you," the clerk responded. I asked if there was an email for the clerk of the court, where I could send a letter questioning the reason for the gag order.
"It will be ignored," the clerk said.
Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy.
The travesty of the Billy Doe case was made possible by secrecy. We started with the secrecy of the grand jury investigation. Then, there was the shroud of anonymity granted to the alleged victim in the case. "Billy Doe," AKA Danny Gallagher, a guy who turned out to be a transparent fraud who basically stole $5 million from the Catholic Church in what was supposed to be a confidential civil settlement.
Next, there was the sealing of the alleged victim's medical records, which would have proven he was a fraud. And gag order after gag order imposed by one trial judge after another, as well as the closing to the public of pretrial arguments.
More secrecy isn't the answer here; instead, more sunlight is needed. Especially in a travesty of a case where four innocent men have already been sent to jail, and one died there.