Monday, June 4, 2012

Jury In Sex Abuse Case Has Plenty of Questions

The jury in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse case Monday began their first full day of deliberations by asking plenty of questions.

The jury asked the judge to define the elements of an attempted rape, which is the main charge against one defendant, Father James J. Brennan. Judge M. Teresa Sarmina responded that the jury must find that the priest used force, or the threat of force.

The jury wanted to know if they reached a verdict in the case of one defendant, did the judge want them to announce that verdict, or sit on it until they had reached a verdict on the second defendant in the case.

After reflecting on that question, and soliciting opinions from lawyers in the case, the judge told the jury to announce both verdicts at the same time. When they reached one verdict, the judge told the jury, "Just keep deliberating on the other and notify the court at the appropriate time."

The jury also asked to see the prosecution's "smoking gun," a gray folder of handwritten and typed documents found in a locked archdiocese safe in 2006 that included a list of 35 priests accused or convicted of sex abuse.

The list was drawn up by Msgr. William J. Lynn in 1994, and subsequently ordered shredded later that same year by Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua. The list was found in the safe 12 years after four original copies were shredded by the late Msgr. James E. Molloy, at the instructions of the late cardinal.

The jury also asked to see the handwritten note Msgr. Molloy left behind explaining how he shredded four memos, but kept one copy for posterity in the office of the secretary for clergy.

The jury asked to see the personnel files of Father James J. Brennan, a co-defendant, and Father Edward V. Avery, who has already pleaded guilty in the case.

Throughout the day, the judge kept a tight reign on the proceedings, advising both defendants and their lawyers to stay close enough to the courtroom so that they could be summoned within 15 minutes, in case the jury had more questions.

The jury asked a technical question about a charge of conspiracy to endanger the welfare of children that had been filed against Msgr. Lynn regarding his decision to put Father Avery back in ministry, where he subsequently abused a 10-year-old altar boy.

How many conspirators did the jury have to find  to establish the conspiracy? The defense lobbied for the most restrictive application, saying the jury would have to find that both Father Avery and Msgr. Lynn participated in the conspiracy. Meanwhile, prosecutors argued for the broadest possible application that would include one or both of the defendants, plus other co-conspirators who weren't even defendants. For example, someone like the late Cardinal Bevilacqua.

Every time the jury asked a question, lawyers, defendants and reporters were left to ponder what it all meant.

Even the judge got involved. Judge Sarmina said she was startled to hear that jurors wanted to know if they should announce separate verdicts. The judge said her first thought was, they've already reached a verdict on one of the defendants, but then she realized, "I think it's just pure speculation." The judge said it was impossible to divine what the jury was up to.

After 11 weeks of trial, lawyers in the case appeared testy. Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington noted that Lynn still had four full-time defense lawyers on the case. That prompted Jeff Lindy, one of those defense lawyers, to mention that he was tired of Blessington mentioning the four defense lawyers when, by Lindy's account, there were seven assistant district attorneys in the courtroom.

Not to be outdone, Blessington mentioned that those seven assistant district attorneys were earning weekly government salaries, while the four defense lawyers were getting paid by the hour. The judge told both men to stop squabbling.

The tension in the courtroom was broken by humor. When Jeff Lindy was looking over a proposed jury instruction from the judge, he complimented her by saying, "your penmanship is very nice."

"Catholic school," the judge deadpanned.


  1. That last line is priceless! I am happy you updated the blog today. I have been anxiously awaiting your report after reading the news articles.

    Great stuff.

    Anyone out there want to venture guess as to how long deliberations will take?

  2. The current betting at CJC [Criminal Justice Center] is a week. But others say it will be sooner than that. I have no clue myself, although this jury seems like they're all business. Stay tuned.

  3. Ralph, many thanks for your work. Much appreciated.

    Not sure if you are following hackgate. I am . I have discovered something that may be of interest to you. Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch, Gordon Brown father Bush are all Papal Knights of Malta. I have yet to find proof that George Bush is also.

    There is a bizarre connection with the missing British child Maddie McCann. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown heavily involved along with News International, Murdoch's run papers appear to be protecting the parents. There were 29 ' sightings' of Madeleine in Malta.

    If you are interested in digging deeper let me know.I have many links to guide you along the way.

  4. Hi Ralph, ever feel like investigating the Church's creation of SNAP and therefore it's control of victims? Please google Victims of

    1. Stop using this forum to whine about SNAP. If you don't like them, start your own association. They are a bunch of victims trying to get justice. If you don't approve of the way they are doing it, start your own. If you fight the victims, you are almost as bad as the Catholic church itself.

    2. Heel, SNAP AINT THE VICTIMS. Get it Harvard boy?

  5. Jim, SNAP was not founded by the Church of Rome. A single document suggests that a sympathetic member of a religious order (a Dominican, if I recall correctly) may have allowed SNAP to operate and raise funds under its non-profit auspices until it could secure its own registered charity status.

    Indeed, those who know the history of SNAP will know that its relationship with Roman Catholic institutions started out somewhat collaborative. There was hope that the two could work together for the common good of victims.

    That was, as we now know, a pipe-dream. The Church could not control SNAP, couldn't rely on its discretion to help it cover its secrets, and the relationship quickly became progressively more adversarial, as it remains today.

    It is unfortunate that a few folks who've experienced real or imagined slights by the SNAP organization have chosen to play to abuse victims' natural mistrust of institutions to sow this, and other, seeds of further mistrust.

    The recent remarks of Abp. Dolan pretty much illustrate where SNAP stands with the institutional Church.

    SNAP isn't perfect; some of its executives could do with a bit of the sort of leadership and PR skills that the bishops that they're up against have.

    But to say it's a Church institution is nothing but a fabrication.

    1. Saying SNAP was created by a sympathetic Dominican nun in all innocence is horse dung. Read Tom Doyle's own plan called " the Project" It describes secret creation of commitees to control victims and their families. VOTF and SNAP have certainly filled that bill.
      Also I have seen Dolan sitting with SNAP leaders in the film Holy Watergate. No Bishop's ever sat with me. Dolan and Donahue make "war" on SNAP thereby validating SNAP as opposition. I would think you might want to believe us victims over Dolan but obviously not. Have some more Kool Aid.

  6. Thank you Greg...
    I for one, would not be volunteering for SNAP if they were any part of the church.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.
    SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc. Our website is

    1. How the hell would either of you know what SNAP is or isnt? GBull are you a victim? Judy Jones isn't one. Are you people kidding me? I worked and wrote for a newspaper , L.A. Weekly for ten years. Kay Ebeling worked press for NASA. We're not dummies here with paranoid fantasies. I judge SNAP by it's actions representing victims period and at that they fail utterly. They have no democracy if that isn't a giveaway to who they really are what is? Your the people that aid in SNAP's obfuscation of victims desires. You should be listening to us victims and you think you are when you listen to SNAP. WRONG!
      We were never told about the heavy Catholic control of SNAP. We were handed Tom Doyle as a hero. He's the controller of the scam. We as victims would have never gotten near SNAP if we had known it's origins and bizarre behavior around this scandal.
      If I'm lying then sue me. But at least some reporter should look into our claims. As victims we at least deserve that. I never knew about any close relationship with the Church period and neither did any other victims here in California. I and my fellow victims have been used again. And I'm not happy about that.

    2. When I looked into this before, it appeared to me that there was a basic disagreement as to whether victims should be advocated for as individuals in need of healing or as a group wanting to stamp out this form of child abuse. Both approaches seemed quite valid and I didn't understand why there couldn't be different advocacy groups with different missions. But Jim's approach seems to be to stamp out SNAP. That just doesn't make sense. His idea that only victims can advocate for victims doesn't make sense either. Is Blessington a victim? And the idea that an activist organization should be a democracy, well, that really doesn't make sense. Jim, do you think that the members of Anonymous all took votes before they hacked the Vatican? Can't you and Kay form a group whose purpose is to facilitate healing and leave the undemocratic activism to SNAP?

  7. Yes Sarah I do think Anonymous, a group of unidentified hackers, took votes.
    Your dismissal of democracy is extraordinary. Absolutely extraordinary.
    What country am I living in? The Vatican? (probably)
    Name one other activist organization that doesn't ask for the insights of it's membership. let alone have no need of their votes.
    Any names come to mind?
    Let's see and exactly how would Kay, who works 16 hour days to survive; and I neither of whom have the golden list of victims that SNAP has.( The reason for SNAPs very existence was to get and control the victims names, amongst other things.)do what you ask?
    You can't organize air Sarah.We have no names to reach out to.
    And Why in the name of god would you leave activism to SNAP????
    They are sooo succesfull at activism. ACTIVISM???? You are out of your mind. Another crazy antidemocratic dictator. The Pope's not enough of that for you?
    And "healing": Who says we can heal anybody? Who thinks that's an amatuer's job? If the church had broken my leg would it be appropriate for some one else who's had a broken leg to fix mine?
    Wake up! SNAP and the church it most clearly represents have "had" you. (For"had" read f*%ked)

    1. You live in America. If you don't like SNAP, and don't think they're democratic enough for you, start your own organization and stop whining because they don't do everything the way you'd like.

      Part of a democracy is that you can get out-voted, which apparently, you did. Part of America is you can try to get a majority of people to agree with you and start your own organization.

      The unfortunate part of democracy is that you can sit there and just whine, which is probably why you couldn't get a few thousand victims organized, as SNAP has done.

    2. Where are these "organized" victims? Where? SNAP says they're hiding. SNAP says...........Name one other movement that has an unseen membership?

  8. Also, SNAP's 3 paid employees earn $250,000. Money collected collectively in the name of victims for the "sake" of victims. Don't you think more than Barbra and David,( 2 victims,) should have a say in where and how and on what, money is spent in our names?

    1. My last line above should read: money collected in our name should be spent.

    2. Jim,

      It is pretty clear that you have done nothing to help the organization, and certainly don't seem to have done any fund raising. In short, you seem to complain, but you want the power to change the way people do things, and you want access to the money that THEY raised, the list of victime that THEY assembled, et cetera.

      Start your own group if you think its that easy.

    3. Let me make this clear, I and other victims in L.A. held signs telling victims to call SNAP. we did that for years. Victims do it today. The difference between them and me is once I'd sussed that SNAP was weird, I split. I'd be at demonstrations but I was not part of SNAP. The reason I talk about the fraud that is SNAP; is because I feel I owe myself and the victims I helped bring into SNAP, the truth.
      I know starting movements or groups isn't easy. Yet SNAP was born fully formed and it has remained unchanged for 23 years. A victims movement unchanged for 23 years? And with no democracy? Ha! Not bloody likely.

    4. Neil get real, if you can.

      What "movement" ever played competition games? This situation isn't a business where one has to keep their list of potential clients secret. Why would SNAP? If SNAP is what it pretends to be. If SNAP had been inclusive of victims and their ideas but no. SNAP with no mandate from victims pretends it knows what victims want. and SNAP pretends that victims with no therapy can "heal" other victims. Only the Catholic Church could come up with such a cheap "solution" to it's problems. IT'S PROBLEMS! Not the victims'.

  9. Are you a victim Kneel?

    If not shut up. Supporters like you are agents provacatours.

    Why am I supposed to help an organization that's a fraud? Why am I supposed to help an organization that is the Church?
    Why am I supposed to not speak about what is done with money raised in my and other victims names?
    If you were a victim who has ever worked closely with SNAP you would know how little victims love SNAP. Since when is democracy not important? Hell you don't even have the balls to sign your name to your posts. Go away little man. You bore me.

  10. Finally I ask the readers here to notice who have been critical of my analysis. GBullough,Neilallen; and Sarah Tex2. When I asked if any of them were victims defending SNAP, there was no answer.

    Hmmmm!Maybe that means that they are just SNAP "supporters"? Quel Suprise?

    As I've said before with "supporters" like that who needs enemies. Supporters who know what's best for victims. I only wish I was making this shit up.


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