On the witness stand today, retired Detective Joseph Walsh detailed numerous inconsistencies in the many contradictory stories told by Danny Gallagher, the former altar boy who famously and improbably claimed he was raped by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.
And when Walsh told Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen about those inconsistencies, her response, according to Walsh was, "You're killing my case."
At the end of a nearly three-hour pre-trial hearing today, Thomas A. Bergstrom, a lawyer for Msgr. William J. Lynn, stood before the judge and stated what Sorensen should have done when faced with all those inconsistencies: confront Gallagher and find out what was the truth.
But Sorensen, who was not called by the District Attorney as a witness to refute Detective Walsh, never did confront Danny Gallagher, Bergstrom told the judge. Why? Because, Bergstrom said, Sorensen had to know, "That the kid's a liar."
|Tom Bergstrom and Msgr. Lynn|
The judge, who spent much of her time in the back room trying to referee a grudge match between Bergstrom and Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, gave the attorneys in the case deadlines for filing briefs before she would rule March 1st on the motion to dismiss.
Bergstrom and Blessington were adversaries in 2012, at the first trial of Msgr. William J. Lynn, the verdict of which has since been overturned. At that first trial, a jury convicted Lynn on a single count of endangering the welfare of a child, Danny Gallagher, by allowing Father Edward V. Avery to return to ministry. It was Avery who was accused of sexually assaulting Danny Gallagher after a funeral Mass.
It was a strange sight to see retired Detective Walsh testifying on behalf of the defense. Walsh, who wore jeans, sneakers and had a pair of sunglasses tucked into the collar of his green sweater, was the district attorney's original lead detective in the investigation into Gallagher's sensational allegations of sex abuse.
At the 2012 trial, Walsh, usually wearing a suit and tie, spent day after day, week after week, reading grim accounts of past cases of sexual abuse by priests into the record, to show a pattern in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of covering up abuse.
Walsh, as many lawyers would tell you, is a witness straight out of central casting. He's got the square jaw, the swept-back white hair, and just-the-facts manner that's accompanied by plenty of charm, and an easy smile. In short, if there is a retrial of Msgr. Lynn, Walsh on the witness stand testifying on behalf of the defense is going to be a problem for the district attorney. He's that credible.
When he was telling Sorensen about the problems in her case, Walsh said, she replied, "I believe him, I believe him," meaning she was putting her faith in Danny Gallagher's crazy and wildly conflicting stories/fables.
When ADA Sorensen told Wallsh he was killing her case, Walsh said he replied that he was just asking questions and writing down what people told him.
All he was doing, Walsh said he told Sorensen, was, "getting the truth."
But Sorensen didn't want to hear it. The truth, Walsh said she told him, was killing her case.
|The D.A.'s Star Witness|
Asked on cross-examination by Blessington whether he ever put that alleged remark by Sorensen down on paper, Walsh replied, "No, sir."
The other bizarre element to today's hearing was that Bergstrom repeatedly attempted to enter the prosecution's own records into evidence, to demonstrate the many inconsistencies in Danny Gallagher's stories. But ADA Blessington kept strenuously objecting to keep those same documents from being admitted as evidence.
The height of this absurdity occurred when Blessington successfully convinced the judge to keep the D.A.'s own 2011 grand jury report out of evidence. One of the reasons Bergstrom may have wanted to use that grand jury report written by Sorensen was to show the many errors in it, as more evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.
Such as when Danny Gallagher's mother, a registered nurse, told the grand jury that she noticed a drastic personality change in her son at age 14, after he entered high school. But when Sorensen wrote the grand jury report, the mother's testimony was changed to say that the drastic personality change "coincided with the abuse," which supposedly happened when Gallagher was 10 and 11 years old and was back in grade school.
How was Sorensen going to explain that rewrite? But Bergstrom never got the chance to ask because the judge excluded the grand jury report as evidence, at the request of our unscrupulous district attorney, and Sorensen wasn't called as witness. Even though Blessington had previously told the judge that Sorensen denied Walsh's claim that she said he was damaging her case.
Maybe Sorensen wasn't called as a witness because she was going to plead the Fifth Amendment.
But at the hearing, Bergstrom was able to get into the record before Judge Bright the curious time line of the Danny Gallagher case. It goes like this:
-- Gallagher, who first came forward in 2009 with his incredible allegations of abuse, was first interviewed by the D.A. on Jan. 28, 2010, after they busted Gallagher out of jail, where he was serving time for a parole violation. On Jan. 21, 2011, the 2011 grand jury report was issued, based completely on the totally unverified stories told by Danny Gallagher and another since-discredited alleged victim, Mark Bukowski. A month later, the five defendants in the case, led by Msgr. Lynn, were arrested based on those completely unverified allegations in the grand jury report, as compiled by master fiction writer Mariana Sorensen.
-- In December 2011, nearly a year after the grand jury report was issued, and nearly two years after the D.A. first took a statement from Gallagher, Detective Walsh, at the request of former First Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann, began to investigate Gallagher's claims. It was Detective Walsh who interviewed Gallagher's mother, and older brother [also an altar boy at the same parish], as well as the teachers and priests at St. Jerome's. And what did Walsh discover? That every witness statement he took, including the ones from Gallagher's own family members, contradicted Danny Gallagher's wild and crazy stories.
The judge at times seemed confused by the simple truth of the time line. Under District Attorney Seth Williams, the modus operandi when prosecuting the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was to first publish completely unverified allegations in the grand jury report. Then, a month later, arrest the defendants. And with the full cooperation of the news media, hang those defendants out to try publicly, while protecting Danny Gallagher under the moniker of "Billy Doe."
|The D.A.'s Missing Witness [left] Former ADA Sorensen|
"She had the case locked up," Bergstrom told the judge. "But the good detective unlocked it."
In court today, Bergstrom dwelled on two simple story lines that showed that Danny Gallagher was a complete liar. First, Gallagher claimed that he was assaulted by Father Charles Engelhardt after an early morning Mass, which Gallagher stated was at 6:30 a.m.
But Gallagher got the time of the early morning weekday Mass wrong at St. Jerome's, in Northeast Philly. It's held at 6:15 a.m., followed by an 8 a.m. Mass.
Gallagher first told a drug counselor, and then two archdiocese social workers, the same wild story, that he was allegedly taken hostage by Father Engelhardt and savagely abused in an anal ramming attack that went on for four or five hours in the sacristy of the tiny church. After he was done raping the boy, the priest allegedly threatened that if Gallagher told anybody, the priest would kill him.
But every month at St. Jerome's, Detective Walsh explained, the pastor put out a Mass schedule. And every month, Gallagher's mother would take the schedule home and write on her calendar, which she kept on the fridge in her kitchen, the dates of the Masses that Danny and his older brother, James, also an altar boy at the same church, were scheduled to serve at.
But, Detective Walsh told the judge, the mother's meticulous calendars showed that during the 1998-99 school year, when Gallagher claimed he was raped as a fifth-grader, Danny Gallagher wasn't scheduled to serve at any 6:15 a.m. Masses. But his brother did serve one early morning Mass, with Father Avery.
Lost in the flow of today's hearing was the fact that Gallagher had completely backed off his original wild stories of violent abuse, punches, kicks and death threats, along with supposedly being tied up in bondage, that he had first told his drug counselor and the two social workers from the archdiocese. Then, he invented a completely new and different story line about being forced to perform a strip tease, as well as mutual masturbation and oral sex with his alleged assailants.
Gallagher explained away his early wild stories by telling Walsh that he was high on drugs when he talked to his drug counselor, and when he talked to the two social workers. But Walsh knew from his investigation that the drug counselor said that Danny Gallagher was sober when he told his stories of alleged abuse. And Walsh knew that when Gallagher talked to the two archdiocese social workers, and told them the same wild stories, just minutes earlier, he had been chauffeured home from a drug clinic by his father the police sergeant.
Where did he find the time and the drugs to get high, Walsh said he asked Danny Gallagher. Gallagher, Walsh said, had no answer.
Walsh alluded to many other factual contradictions in Gallagher's stories. Gallagher claimed that Father Engelhardt accosted him after the 6:15 a.m. Mass when he was supposedly putting away the sacramental wine. But Gallagher's older brother told Detective Walsh that it was another church officer, the
sexton, who put away the sacramental wine. And that the sexton was the last to leave the church, after he locked up. Which would have meant that it was impossible for Danny Gallagher to be alone with Father Engelhardt in the sacristy after the 6:15 Mass, which only lasted about 25 minutes.
"There were just so many inconsistencies," Walsh told the judge.
Not to mention what happened to the 8 a.m. Mass? Was it cancelled because an elderly priest was busy anally raping a 10-year-old altar boy behind the locked doors of the sacristy? While people who showed up early for the 8 a.m. Mass in the tiny church were busy reciting the Rosary?
Didn't they hear Danny Gallagher's cries for help? Gallagher's cockamamie story made no sense, Walsh told the judge.
Danny Gallagher also told Detective Walsh that when he was attacked after Mass, he had walked to and from the church. But Walsh said that Gallagher's older brother told him that whenever he served Mass, his parents would drive him to and from the church, even though they lived less than a mile away. [Danny Gallagher's mother testified at trial that she would drive both of her altar boys to and from church].
"They were good parents," Walsh said.
Walsh also told a story about two textbooks on sex abuse that Danny Gallagher kept under his bed. In the 2011 grand jury report, Sorensen wrote that Gallagher was self-diagnosing by reading those books, supposedly trying to come to terms with the horrors of his own abuse.
But according to Detective Walsh, when Danny Gallagher saw the books on Walsh's desk, "He pointed at" them, laughed, and said, "that's where I used to crush my pills and get high." Gallagher then pointed out to Walsh numerous indentations in the hard covers of the two textbooks.
The second simple story line highlighted by Bergstrom: Danny Gallagher claimed that a second assailant, Father Avery, accosted him after school while he was a member of a maintenance crew during fifth grade that was helping to put away the bells and some heavy 7-foot tables used after a bell choir concert.
But, Detective Walsh told the judge, three teachers at St. Jerome's, including the school's longtime music teacher, told him that only eigth-grade boys were allowed to serve on the bell choir maintenance crew, because they were generally the "biggest and strongest" kids at the school. So they were physically capable of handling the heavy bronze bells and seven-foot tables before the concert.
The maintenance crew, however, only set up equipment for the bell choir concerts, Walsh told the judge. Then. they went home. After the concerts, which lasted no more than an hour, the members of the bell choir, which included two teachers, put away the bells and tables, Walsh said. Not Danny Gallagher, who was a member of the maintenance crew when he was an eighth-grader, but not when he was a fifth-grader, Gallagher's former teachers told Walsh.
Based on those two simple stories, Bergstrom told the judge, if Danny Gallagher never served at a 6:15 a.m. Mass and he never served as a fifth-grader member of the bell choir maintenance crew, "These men should have never been convicted," Bergstrom said about the defendants in the case.
"Neither of these things are true," Bergstrom said about the early morning Mass and serving on the bell choir crew as a fifth-grader. "It's that simple."
A month before the first trial of Msgr. Lynn, Walsh said he sat down with Danny Gallagher to prepare the D.A.'s star witness for testifying.
"There were a lot of discrepancies," Walsh told the judge. "I was going to iron out the discrepancies."
But, Walsh said, when he confronted Gallagher about the many factual discrepancies in his stories, "He just put his head down" and said nothing. Or claimed he was high on drugs.
When Gallagher refused to respond, Walsh said he told him that during a trial, a judge would force him to answer those questions.
"You can't just sit there and not answer those questions," Walsh said he told Gallagher. But, Walsh said, Gallagher "would stare at the table" and say nothing.
"He wouldn't answer," Walsh said about Danny Gallagher. "He would clam up and put his head down."
At the end of today's hearing, Bergstrom told the judge that the prosecution should have informed defense lawyers about Gallagher's non-responsive answers in response to Detective Walsh's repeated questioning. The prosecution should have also told the defense about Mariana Sorensen's alleged response to the factual discrepancies in Gallagher's stories, namely, "You're killing my case."
The judge now has some time to mull over whether to respond to Bergstrom's motion by throwing out the D.A.'s case against Msgr. Lynn.
Meanwhile, it was obvious to everyone in court today, including the D.A.'s trio of representatives, that Danny Gallagher is a liar who was just making up stories that the D.A. wanted to hear.
And if Danny Gallagher made it all up, four innocent men were sent to jail. Two of those men, former school teacher Bernard Shero, and former priest Ed Avery, are still in jail.
|Archbishop Chaput [left] Explains $5 Million Payout For Danny|
The last of the defendants, Msgr. Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary for clergy, served 33 of his minimum 36 month sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest. But Lynn's legal ordeal isn't over as the official scapegoat for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. If Judge Bright doesn't grant Bergstrom's motion to dismiss, Lynn faces a retrial starting May 30th.
In the courtroom today, Lynn's relatives showed up, along with Father Engelhardt's niece, and Bernie Shero's mother, father and sister. Before the hearing, the tearful Shero family thanked Walsh for coming forward to tell the truth.
Also in the audience today was one of the lawyers for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who negotiated what was supposed to be a confidential civil settlement for Danny Gallagher of $5 million for his alleged pain and suffering.
That lawyer was probably worried about the fallout, as more and more people, including possibly Judge Bright, come to the realization that Danny Gallagher is a complete fraud. And that the D.A. knew it, but went ahead anyway and sent four innocent men to jail. For the sole purpose of political gain. By conducting a witch hunt, with the full cooperation of the news media, against the local Catholic Church.