Thursday, January 17, 2013

Former Priest, Now A Prisoner, Sets Himself On Fire

By Ralph Cipriano

Ed Avery looked the prosecutor in the eye and said he didn't do it.

He said he never touched the 10-year-old altar boy known as "Billy Doe." The defrocked priest today rode a bus from the state prison up in Laurel Highlands, Somerset County, all the way to the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, at least a four-hour trip, just to tell a jury it was all a lie.

Avery said he only pleaded guilty because if convicted at the first Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse trial last year, he was facing a prison sentence of up to 20 years. And the prosecution was offering a sweetheart deal -- only 2 1/2 to 5 years in jail.

So on March 22, 2012, Avery pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child -- the alleged victim of both crimes was Billy Doe -- "to avoid a more lengthy prison term," Avery said.

"I did not want to die in prison," the 70-year-old former priest told an angry prosecutor. 

Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti was incredulous. "You're sitting in state prison today because of [Billy Doe's} allegations," he said.

"I chose to take the plea," Avery corrected him. 

When Cipolletti attempted to cut off Avery's answer, a delighted defense lawyer, Michael J. McGovern, stood up and told the judge that Cipolletti can't do that to "his witness."

Judge Ellen Ceisler had a pained look on her face as she glanced over at Avery, and then back at the defense attorney.

"I think he's a hostile witness at this point," she said.

On cross-examination, defense lawyer McGovern asked Avery if he ever had "sessions" with Billy Doe. According to the prosecution, sessions was the priest's code name for sex with kids.

"Absolutely not," Avery said. He couldn't sit here in court and say he was guilty of raping Billy "because it positively never happened," Avery said.

The rape that Avery pleaded guilty to supposedly happened in a storage closet at St. Jerome's parish after a 6:30 a.m. Mass back in 1999. But Avery said he almost never said Mass at St. Jerome's, because he was employed as the chaplain at Nazareth Hospital. He was at the hospital every day of the week, beginning at 3 a.m., and he stayed on the job until 8 p.m., Avery said.

This was his routine 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Avery testified. At Nazareth Hospital, Avery said Mass every day, and the service was televised, he told the jury.

McGovern asked Avery if he was friends with McGovern's client, Father Charles Engelhardt, on trial at the second archdiocese sex abuse trial for allegedly raping Billy Doe.

"We were acquaintances," Avery said.

A 2011 grand jury report said that after Father Engelhardt had sex with Billy in the sacristy at St. Jerome's, he told Father Avery about it. According to that grand jury report, Father Avery allegedly went to Billy and said he heard about his "session" with Father Engelhardt, and that Billy's sessions with Father Avery would soon begin. Then Avery raped the boy.

Did you ever discuss with my client having sex with Billy Doe, the defense lawyer asked.

No way, Avery said. The only thing he said he remembered discussing with Engelhardt was Pasta Night, which was every Wednesday at the St. Jerome rectory, where both Engelhardt and Avery lived at the time.

Why did you take the plea bargain, McGovern asked.

"To get a lesser sentence," Avery said. "Every motion that was made was turned down. The options were less and less. I didn't want to die in prison. That's why I took the plea."

McGovern asked if Avery was worried about being the target of a civil lawsuit filed by Billy Doe.

"I'm pretty much almost destitute at this time," he said.

The notion that Avery never touched Billy Doe, and only pleaded guilty because he got a sweetheart deal from the prosecution was first raised last September in an unsuccessful motion to reconsider bail for Msgr. William J. Lynn filed in Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Lynn, the first Catholic administrator in the nation to be sent to jail for the sexual sins of the clergy, was convicted by a jury on June 22 of one felony count for endangering the welfare of a minor, namely Billy Doe, by not doing enough to protect him from Avery. Lynn previously was denied bail by Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, who presided over his trial; a bail motion on behalf of Lynn was also denied by the Superior Court.

In their motion to reconsider bail filed in Superior Court, Lynn's lawyers said that Avery told his lawyers he never touched Billy Doe. Avery was also given a polygraph test, which he passed.

"This newly discovered information leads to the disconcerting conclusion that the Commonwealth was driven by a zealous and single-minded desire to try [Lynn] and obtain a conviction, despite information that put into question the justice of pursing that outcome,"Lynn's lawyers concluded in their unsuccessful motion.

It's one thing to file a motion seeking bail based on what one set of defense lawyers, namely Avery's, supposedly told another set of defense lawyers, namely Lynn's. A polygraph, on top of that, is not even admissible as evidence in a Pennsylvania criminal court.

But it's entirely another matter to yank that defendant out of jail, put in him in a courtroom under oath, and ask him once and for all for the truth.

Lynn is currently sitting in jail serving 3 to 6 year years for endangering Billy's welfare. But if you follow Avery's statements to their logical conclusion, it means that stacking the deck in the first archdiocese sex abuse trial wasn't enough. It wasn't enough for the judge to let in 21 supplemental sex abuse cases dating back to 1948, before the defendant was born, to demonstrate a clear pattern of conduct in the archdiocese.

No, the prosecutors had to get one of the defendants to cop a plea to something he didn't do, a sex crime that never happened, just to bag Lynn with a "historic" conviction. It's the sort of thing that an ethics panel or an appeals court might want to look into.

Avery's admissions today placed the prisoner in jeopardy, as both the prosecutor and defense lawyers took pains to point out in court.

Avery has already served 10 months of his sentence. The inmate currently is in protective custody, the prosecutor noted. That could change suddenly, the prosecutor warned. Avery is a convicted child molester in protective custody, the prosecutor said. He could become a highly publicized convicted child molester suddenly mixed in with the general prison population.

"Life is gonna get even worse when the press is covering it, yes?" Assistant District Attorney Cipolletti asked Avery.

The former priest agreed.

Avery has another 18 months to go before he is eligible for parole. But, as defense lawyers pointed out, the state might take revenge on Avery by not granting him parole, and letting him serve his full five-year sentence. The state could also file perjury charges against Avery, defense lawyers said. If convicted, that could mean additional time, and the former priest could wind up dying in jail.

But none of that seemed to phase the prisoner, who obviously had something to get off his chest, and nothing was going to deter him. Avery, who looked like he had lost weight since his last courtroom appearance, was dressed in a floppy, light-blue prison uniform on the witness stand. He did not have to wear handcuffs, and he was also not wearing his once-familiar toupee.

The prisoner even disagreed with Cipolletti when the prosecutor asked if the priest had been "laicized," the formal church procedure for busting a priest down to a lay person.

"That's incorrect," Avery told the prosecutor. The man with two Ph.D. degrees, in spirituality and gerontology, told the Cipolletti he hadn't been laicized, he had been "defrocked." What that meant, the prosecutor cut in, was that Avery could no longer dress up as a priest, present himself as a priest, or say Mass publicly.

That's all true, Avery told the stunned prosecutor, but he added, "Once a priest, always a priest."

Lawyers familiar with Avery's status have said that Avery now serves unofficially as the prison chaplain.

Among the spectators watching Avery in the courtroom were his two civil lawyers. "He killed 'em," one was overheard telling another spectator before he left.

After Avery became a hostile witness, prosecutor Cipolletti teed off on him.

Avery had claimed he was destitute. That prompted Cipolletti to ask Avery if before he went to jail, he sold a property that he had originally purchased for a dollar for more than $1 million.

"Yes," Avery said.

Cipolletti then went through Avery's entire personnel file from the archdiocese's secret archive files. The prosecutor brought up the name of a man who came forward in 1992 to say that he had been sexually abused by Avery back in the late 1970s.

The prosecutor read files that divulged how, when first confronted with accusations of abuse, Avery had told Lynn and other Catholic higher-ups that if he had touched the boy during a night the boy spent in the priest's bed in the rectory, it was only accidental. But on the witness stand today, Avery owned up to his crime.

"I admitted that it happened," Avery said of the abuse. "I was very sorry that it happened."

That prompted objections from defense lawyers, who said that Cipolletti was going far beyond the bounds of evidence previously discussed on direct testimony or cross-examination. The judge, however, said it was proper for Cipolletti to cast a wider net when attacking the credibility of a hostile witness.

The prosecutor went through the names of several other alleged victims of abuse from the 1970s who came forward to make accusations against Avery. The prosecutor also took the time to disclose the race of each victim, several of whom were black, possibly for the benefit of a jury that included five African-Americans.

In response, Avery said he had been guilty of "always horsing around" with boys, and wrestling with them. Cipolletti said that the priest had also dropped ice into the boys' pants as part of his horseplay.

The prosecutor was no longer interested in what the witness had to say, frequently cutting off Avery's answers. Defense lawyers reacted by falling all over themselves to make objections, saying that the prosecutor wasn't letting Avery finish his answers. This was true. Sadly, the judge meekly went along with the charade, and the result was the prisoner frequently was silenced.

And many in the audience wondered what else Avery might have to say. But instead they were treated to more oratory from the prosecutor.

Cipollletti went into one long discourse about how abuser priests like Avery had betrayed the faith of young boys who made the fatal mistake of trusting them, prompting McGovern to stand up and ask the judge if it was time for closing arguments, because Cipolletti was certainly making one.

I'm ready to give my closing as well, the defense lawyer told the judge.

That won't be necessary, the judge told McGovern. The situation in the courtroom, however, had deteriorated, and plainly needed strong direction, but none was forthcoming from the bench. For a fleeting moment, some defense lawyers in the courtroom, which included a former member of Lynn's defense team, may have actually missed M. Teresa Sarmina, the prosecution-friendly but no-nonsense judge who presided over the Lynn trial.

In response to Cipolletti's escalating attacks on the witness, which included cutting him off and talking over the witness, Burton A. Rose staged a counter-attack.

 Rose, a defense lawyer representing Bernard Shero, a former teacher also accused of raping Billy Doe, asked Avery what would have happened at his plea bargain hearing if Judge Sarmina had asked if he had actually raped Billy. It was a question that according to a five-page transcript of that hearing introduced into evidence today, Judge Sarmina had never bothered to ask.

"I would have had to say no," Avery said.

"That would have scuttled the plea bargain?" Rose asked.

Yes, Avery said.

"Did you sexually assault that young man?" Rose asked, referring to Billy Doe.

"I did not," Avery said.

"So help you God?" Rose asked.

"So help me God," Avery said.

"That's it," Rose said before sitting down.

It sure was.


  1. Dave - right on!

    Ralph - good reporting job!

  2. So Avery, which lies are folks to believe? Is it possible that Avery could spend even more time in jail for committing perjury? Is it possible that Avery would now have to stand trial because he is pleading "not guilty"?

    Victims of child sex abuse deserve justice, and child predators need to be kept far away from kids forever. This is the only for sure way to keep our children safe today.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511.,
    "SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

    1. For the duplicitous "support group" SNAP, the issue of child abuse is just a pretext for them to victimize and demonize the Church. How else do you explain SNAP president Barbara Blaine's passionate letter of support on behalf of a Louisiana SNAP psychiatrist who was arrested with over 100 images of child pornography on his computer? Or when they paired with a left-wing activist group in Sept 2011 to petition the ICC (Hague) to charge Pope Benedict with "crimes against humanity." An absurd publicity stunt.

      Unfortunately for anti-Catholic groups like SNAP, serious fault lines are beginning to appear in the decade-long smear campaign against the Church. Starved of new cases and confronted by the truth, the witch-hunt is starting to run out of steam.

      Although SNAP’s name contains the word "priest", with contemporaneous cases of Catholic clergy abuse all but dried up (how many more times can they and their disreputable contingency lawyer friends dig up the same old cases from the 1960s?), they are increasingly having to find business elsewhere - "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." they claim. Yet they just can’t shake off their anti-Catholic agenda and obsession.

      Incidentally, you only have to look at how SNAP operates to understand their motives. Check out their website. Do you see dialogue? No, because anybody whose comments are in any way critical or questioning of SNAP has their post removed and their IP blocked. Here’s a comment about them I saw recently on a well-known website: “I have been threatened with physical violence by SNAP-ites, and they have given my family grief, so........I have very good reason to remain anonymous.”

      SNAP has zero credibility and is fast becoming an irrelevance.

    2. Not sure what an irrelevance is, but is the country of Australia a duplicitous anti-Catholic group? Do you think their Royal Commission is swamped in cases from the 60's? No, Australia is swamped by the mass suicides of children raped by Catholic priests over the past several decades. Is Ireland an anti-Catholic group? You are woefully uninformed.

    3. The Royal Commission has not yet reported – their final report is not due until December 2015. And their remit is to investigate the history of educational institutions, religious groups, sporting organizations, state institutions and youth organizations – NOT just the Catholic Church. Australian journalist Andrew Boult reflected the concerns of many in Australia in his excellent recent article "Beware an anti-Catholic witch hunt in the royal commission." It warns against exactly the type of prejudice you display.

      Mr. Boult states of the Commission: “Here are the three greatest dangers:
      1.It becomes an anti-Catholic crusade
      2.It treats allegations as proof.
      3.It doesn’t stop the worst sex abuse today”

      With regard to point 1, this comment (in “Sylvia’s story”), from the “victims’ stories” section of SNAP’s Australian website is illuminating:
      “When will the other churches come to the party? Why are they silent and letting the Catholics take all the heat? Aged 17 I was groomed and assaulted by an Anglican church official. Nearly 14 years after I first complained, they are still telling me to go away. In 1997, they said I had to withdraw my complaint from the Police before they would investigate…I am still waiting for any form of justice. This is despite a memo obtained from the Diocesan office that detailed his molestation of a 12 year old in the 1950s!”

      Point 2 is precisely the iniquitous cause of the widespread judicial failures of the last decade that have resulted in innocent Catholic clergy being wrongly convicted.

      On point 3 Mr Boult hits home: “We should be far more concerned with stopping the abuse of children today than with spending millions to recall the abuse by priests now dead, jailed or too old to be dangerous… Churches no longer are – if they ever were – where the worst child sex abuse occurs. Aboriginal communities are. Yet child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities will almost certainly be excluded in this proposed royal commission into abuse in institutions only.”

      As for Ireland, there is a wave of hysteria and anti-Catholic rhetoric from secular fundamentalists and other Catholic haters – including many in the media – determined to use the shameful behavior of some Judas priests many decades ago to excoriate the Church today. 300,000 of them were suckered into reading – and believing – a book called “Kathy’s Story”, a tale of abuse and mistreatment that was subsequently exposed as a pack of lies. This hysteria is dying down as more reasonable people realize the over-reaction that has taken place, and see case after case of falsely accused priests (and nuns) and wrongfully convicted clergy – and as Ireland seeks to address its real child abuse problem – that within families.

    4. So in other words the Prime Minister of Ireland and the Prime Minister of Australia are Catholic haters?

    5. It isn't so much I hate Catholics. I don't. I hate the people who pretend they represent all Catholics. And push the bogus line that Catholicism is under attack. If Catholicism were under attack they better hide the art and gold and diamonds and arm themselves for a "Holy' war to defend themselves against the children they've raped.
      Better hurry! Here come those awful children.

    6. I also have to say this site is a stage set. a stage set for a play between two opposing forces created to "act' out nonsense.
      The nonsense being: The Church is under attack and SNAP represents victims. This little playlet is pure silliness. Based on a Nazi ploy i.e. if you tell a lie often enough it will appear to be the truth.
      First, there is no attack on the Church.
      Second, SNAP is the Church.Therefore it's "blasts" against the Church are just another part of the Church"show".
      Third,This blog by Cipriano sponsored by a law firm, who may have connections to the Church, is merely the stage for a continuation of this show.
      All for the Church's P.R. benefit. i.e. the burning priest (including a photo of burning Buhdist monk) who,in fact, wasn't. No padres on fire here.
      And since the contradictions in this case are amazing and appear to be benefiting the Church's "keep the waters muddy to cover up" policies. This whole case appears to be a set piece too. Like the Nazi's burned the Rheichstag for their own benefit.

  3. Interesting tactic for Avery. Take the deal, serve a short sentence and then run around and deny you did it. Double jeapardy attaches after the plea so he can't be tried. He signed a written colloquy and orally admitted to the charges. Now he says he was really crossing his fingers. These are the men that the AOP calls priests. "I am not a child rapist, just a perjurer."

  4. Well now...hey, if he said he didn't do it, then he didn't do it, right? Isn't that the way it works? Every criminal says they didn't do it.

    The "So help me God" part made me laugh out loud considering who they are dealing with. Apparently, the God part isn't such a big deal to them anyway. If you are going to swear to God, maybe you shouldn't be lying about raping a kid if you really didn't. Catholics will glom onto the fact that he said he didn't do it. But the wimp of a man sold his soul to take a plea and then turned around, in an open court and swore to God he was telling the truth that he didn't do it. That is a special kind of stupid. I think I'd want a refund on my absolution of sins from this one.

  5. Time to start questioning the accuser, his past, and his motives in this case. You'll feel better about yourselves in the end.

    1. You must be easily bilked. All child molesters in prison have to deny it. You actually bought that?

  6. @cherry. No, it's time to admit that priests act like every other dirtbag criminal when cornered. "Sure, I slept with a boy in my bed at the rectory, but I only touched him inadvertently." " Yes, I pleaded guilty to rape but not this boy, and I just wanted a good deal." Most convicts will tell you that they are innocent, were railroaded by prosecutors, and that there accusers are liars or worse than they are. Again, Billy, may or may not be a lying dirtbag looking to make a buck. But the AOP acted like every shady corporation when it was finally called to account, and their executives were slimier than Enron or Madoff. And Avery has just acted like a $20.00 pimp looking to recant because he wants to see himself as really a big deal that got a bad break. It's a sad day for the DAs office but an even sadder day for all those Catholics that called dirtbags like this Father.

  7. You still don't see the big picture here do you? All off this, the entire first trial, this trial, innocent men accused of the most heinous crimes. Innocent men in this trial and their family names dragged through the mud, defamed in the media and on the internet by clueless bystanders. People like you, SNAP Judy, Dennis Ecker and others roasting these men before their day in court. Before their lawyers have had a chance to question the accuser after three years of allegations and no evidence. Remember this is America, Innocent Until Proven Guilty, not the other way around. Except for you people who defame these men from day 1. LOOK AT THE ACCUSER FOR ONCE PLEASE. LOOK AT HIS HISTORY. THE AMOUNT OF ARRESTS. WHEN HE CHANGED HIS DIMEANOR, AFTER HE WAS HIGH, AS HE PUT IT, FOR 10 YEARS STRAIGHT. PLEASE, JUST ONCE LOOK AT THE FACTS. LOOK AT WHAT HE STANDS TO GAIN FINANCIALLY FROM THIS. PLEASE JUST LOOK...

    1. @Cherry.

      "People like you, SNAP Judy, Dennis Ecker and others roasting these men before their day in court. Before their lawyers have had a chance to question the accuser after three years of allegations and no evidence."

      I am not a Snapper or so naive to believe that every troubled kid with a story has been abused. I also don't believe that you are as irrational as Dave Pierre (The Media Report) who has constructed a tin foil hat conspiracy world where everyone is trying to make his church look bad. But a rape trial is also not a trial of the accuser. There is either sufficient evidence to convict these two guys or not. I am not roasting these men; but like anybody else in Philly who has been indicted for rape, they have to stand trial. Their affiliation with AOP doesn't make them more or less likely to be guilty. For you, their AOP affiliation means that the accuser must be scrutinized more carefully than any other person who claims rape. That isn't how it works. More often than not, rape victims are hookers, hustlers, drug addicts, and petty criminals themselves. They can still be raped or abused. There is nothing unusual about the alleged victim in this case, i.e. a petty drug addict criminal; nor is there anything unusual with the alleged perps, i.e. clergy, teachers or an adult in a position of trust. What is unusual is that historically the church, cops, and prosecutors have treated priests special and have not required them to go through the process like every other poor slob. They brushed it under the rug and moved them on. And I frankly think that the ADA will lose this case. The accuser has a sketchy story, Avery's testimony was a train wreck, and the two men can testify because they have no real baggage or history of sleeping with young boys. In other words, it will be a typical outcome for an all too typical rape case

    2. Kopride This guy had his day in court. No roasting going on here other than your mom's Sunday dinner.

  8. @Cherry. "All off this, the entire first trial, this trial, innocent men accused of the most heinous crimes."

    No. The first trial. Lynn was accused of covering up vast amounts of credible allegations of child rape, which he essentially admitted to. Instead, he said that the late Cardinal told him to do it and he had no power to do anything but what the Cardinal told him. He never said he was innocent; he said he was following orders and being obedient to his Bishop. In addition to various credible victims, nuns and a Pastor testified about the retaliation wreaked upon them by Lynn for taking abuse seriously. Brennan was accused of abusing a single child (because the other allegations were time barred). He was not charged for living with the O'Hara student at the Divine Providence Convent, the horseplay that got him kicked out of O'Hara, or the other allegations of impropriety over his very strange career. Brennan and the victim agreed that they slept in the same bed together, viewed porn together, and wrestled with each other. There was no dispute on those facts, which frankly are creepy and out of line. The jury hung on the whether Brennan went further than that an molested him, particularly because the victim changed the story and said that Brennan merely spooned him. Innocence, no. Neither Lynn nor Brennan were "innocent." A very compelling argument can be made that the proof fell short of what was necessary to convict either or both of them under a reasonable doubt standard. Indeed, the jury did not convict Brennan. That doesn't make him innocent. Avery pleaded guilty in a written and oral colloquy. That's not innocence. I think I see the big picture very well.

    "Innocent men in this trial and their family names dragged through the mud, defamed in the media and on the internet by clueless bystanders."

    This trial may very well be different. As I said, Avery pleaded, and was a well documented and recognized child abuser even before the latest allegations; there is no "fingers crossed" with a guilty plea. He is not innocent by any reasonable definition. Englehardt, to my knowledge, was never accused before "Billy." And Shero is another guy where there is no clear history that he has been involved with other kids. Accordingly, this case is like every other run of the mill rape trial where it is the "victim's" word against the defendants. Like many rape accusers, he has a troubled past and there are lots of red flags. there is nothing really unusual about that. Most of Sandusky's accusers were troubled kids as well. If I was a juror, I probably would have a hard time convicting these two men (Englehardt and Shero). And it wouldn't be my job to determine whether they were innocent, just whether the prosecutor proved them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But one troubled kid coming forward years later with allegations of abuse without other corroboration would probably not be enough to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.

    1. Lynn never admitted covering anything up, he said "he wished he could have done more for the boy at St. Jerome's". That is what he is in jail for. Don't spin his conviction into the cover up. He tried to expose these people per the testimony. If nothing happened at St. Jerome's, then he couldn't have done more, because nothing needed to be done. And red flags don't begin to describe this accuser...

    2. @Cherry. At the first trial, there was clear evidence of a systematic cover up by the Cardinals and higher officials of abuse cases over decades. Most of those individual cases, even where the priest admitted the abuse, were time barred for prosecution. In other words, the bad priests benefited from and escaped prosecution through the cover up. Lynn admitted to participating in the general cover up and transfer of bad priests; and said he was acting at the direction of his Cardinal. Indeed. Msg. Picard testified how Lynn was the Cardinal's toady in protecting bad priests and punishing pastors who complained about them. Lynn did absolutely nothing to expose these bad eggs to the authorities; and followed the AOP policy of discouraging victims to report. This general cover up was exhaustively reported by Ralph, and the press. And I am the first one to say that the criminal prosecution of Lynn is based upon a very novel and strained reading of criminal conspiracy. He is not innocent by any reasonable meaning of the word, but I am skeptical that he "conspired" with an abuser simply because he didn't report it; or made it easier for him to have access to children in the community.

      With respect to St. Jerome, Avery should have never been there because he had a known history of abusing at least one victim and admitted to sleeping with at least one young boys (and I hope we can agree that sleeping with young boys, whether you are a catholic priest or Michael Jackson, is a bit creepy and suspect). Avery pleaded guilty. End of story --even if he changes his mind. The rest of the cases, Brennan's, Engelhardt's and Shero are "run of the mill" he said/he said cases where the accusers are very troubled and flawed. I don't know whether these three did anything unlawful, although Brennan is another disgrace as an individual; and chooses strange bedfellows (young boys).

  9. Like so many other instances of falsely accused priests, the case against Avery has always appeared unsubstantiated. Like so many other instances of wrongfully convicted Catholic clergy, the case against Lynn is untenable. Yet, like Jesus Christ himself, innocent men are made to suffer.
    That judges are persuaded by the word of liars, criminals, drug addicts who are deceitful and impressionable, makes one wonder if there is not more to this.
    The business of falsely accusing and convicting Catholic clergy has been a very lucrative one for all involved, except the accused, who is usually left in ruin, financially and emotionally.

  10. @cherry, For the duplicitous "support group" SNAP, the issue of child abuse is just a pretext for them to victimize and demonize the Church. How else do you explain SNAP president Barbara Blaine's passionate letter of support on behalf of a Louisiana SNAP psychiatrist who was arrested with over 100 images of child pornography on his computer? Or when they paired with a left-wing activist group in Sept 2011 to petition the ICC (Hague) to charge Pope Benedict with "crimes against humanity." An absurd publicity stunt.

    Unfortunately for anti-Catholic groups like SNAP, serious fault lines are beginning to appear in the decade-long smear campaign against the Church. Starved of new cases and confronted by the truth, the witch-hunt is starting to run out of steam.

    Although SNAP’s name contains the word "priest", with contemporaneous cases of Catholic clergy abuse all but dried up (how many more times can they and their disreputable contingency lawyer friends dig up the same old cases from the 1960s?), they are increasingly having to find business elsewhere - "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." they claim. Yet they just can’t shake off their anti-Catholic agenda and obsession.

    Incidentally, you only have to look at how SNAP operates to understand their motives. Check out their website. Do you see dialogue? No, because anybody whose comments are in any way critical or questioning of SNAP has their post removed and their IP blocked. Here’s a comment about them I saw recently on a well-known website: “I have been threatened with physical violence by SNAP-ites, and they have given my family grief, so........I have very good reason to remain anonymous.”

    SNAP has zero credibility and is fast becoming an irrelevance.

  11. When does Msgr Lynn get released? The DA couldn't get Bevilacqua & won't try to get Rigali - so they needed someone to go to jail and Bill Lynn drew the sort straw. The prosecution was flawed on so many fronts and I can only hope that Blessington & Williams have their day. Sarmina wants a seat on a higher court - good luck. Where are Lynn Marks and all the "fair judges/merit selection" on these disgraces wearing robes. First Hughes, then Sarmina, now Ceisler.
    As we approach a day to celebrate the memory of Dr Martin Luther King - let us remember that ALL discrimination is wrong. Even against Catholics.


      I agree. This poor Monsignor just liked to have sex in the rectory, cross-dress, and sell meth; and now the feds are going after him. And all Bill Lynn did was try and protect AOP priests like this at the direction of the Cardinal; and persecute other good priests like Fr. Picard who dared question the wisdom of transferring these problem priests to other parishes. It's horrible. God himself made these people the instruments of his sacraments so they should be beyond reproach. And if they do act badly, judges, prosecutors and civil authorities should really look the other way out of deference to the good Cardinals. Wah, Wah, Wah, people are always picking on the poor church.

  12. First, I want to make it very clear to everyone that I am NOT a SNAP employee. I am a survivor who wants to see justice for individuals who have been abused by clergy. I know first hand how the catholic church operates, and how they sweep things under the rug. You may call me a expert when dealing with the catholic church. I will be up front and honest and tell you I judge any wrong doings by the catholic church guilty before innocent only because of the past history of the church. To correct Kopride statement that most rape victims are hookers, hustlers or addicts is a uneducated statement and shows only his/her ignorance. Avery's statement yesterday did not do any harm to this case. His statement DID DO harm to himself and priests in general. He will not get out of prison and Lynn will also stay were he is. In my opinion he made it "open season" on any priest who abuses in the future. Victims and their families will not come forward and go through the judicial system but rather find justice in their own way. Avery's fear of dying in prison maybe a true reality for him when he is ordered to serve his full 5 year sentence, and if the report here is correct that Avery has spent the last 10 months in protective custody I will do everything I can do to see that he is placed into general population.

    1. "open season" on priests? "guilty before innocent"? "find justice in their own way"?
      We know Kopride is ignorant. Ignorant and vindictive.
      And you are little different.
      You claim not to be a SNAP employee. Given your despicable assertions, you might find welcoming arms there.

    2. No. I am an attorney, and my only agenda is that folks who have a blind allegiance to their religion, don't simply blindly accuse: judges, prosecutors, police, grand jurors, petit jurors, defense attorneys, the press, and accusers of misconduct or defamation simply because they participate in the legal process against the church. I have said repeatedly, that I think it is likely that Engelhardt and Shero will be acquitted because the allegations are remote and there is little corroboration. The accuser has some baggage. Avery pleaded guilty so that case is closed. Lynn has been convicted in what I believe was a legally flawed proceeding; but in proceeding that revealed the church to be a deeply flawed, reckless, and morally bankrupt institution in child abuse cases. The facts against Lynn were devastating. I'm just not sure that there is a legal theory that allows you to convict someone for turning a blind eye to abuse or being a toady to your superiors and blindly fulfilling their directives. Brennan's case was bizarre; but the jury was forced to choose between a very bizarre and immature adult who admitted to watching porn and sleeping with a young boy; and a very troubled young adult. They hung on the conviction. People are allowed to criticize the church and priests when they behave inappropriately. It doesn't mean that they are Snappers, ignorant, or church haters. I myself was raised catholic and count family members among the clergy. They don't rape kids. But they also don't sleep with kids, show them porn, wrestle them, live with them at convents, etc. If they did, I would be their sharpest critic. Nobody is ganging up on the church. They are simply being held accountable in the legal system like every other corporation whose members sleep with boys; or transfer members with a history of behaving inappropriately.

    3. There is nothing blind about the accusations leveled at people representing the areas you list at the beginning of your post. There is plenty of evidence of everything from unethical behavior to corruption in regard of most of those professions.

      SNAP and their attorney friends are familiar enough to everyone. The malpractices of law enforcement have also been covered at length.

      A number of recent books and articles have been critical of the media. Ann Coulter’s book Slander (Crown Publishers) and Bernard Goldberg’s book Bias(Harper Perennial) are very good examples of the severe criticism of the media. Several writers as different as Richard Neuhaus and Andrew Greeley, as ideologically diverse as George Weigel and Peter Steinfels, and also of course William Donohue, have criticized the media for their handling of the clergy sex crisis.

      And you forgot to mention "psychiatrists" - you know, those "repressed memory" charlatans.

      It has been estimated that between 32% and 50% of all accusations against priests are either flat out false or grossly exaggerated. As for all the false accusations against innocent priests, there were some 173 over the last 3 years until 2012 in the US. The various drug addicts, criminals, fraudsters and extortionists who made the false accusations felt secure enough that the worst fate that could befall them was that they wouldn't get a free payout for zero effort or accountability on their part.

      Fortunately, as people are starting to sort fact from fiction, the wheels are coming off the Truth Abuse Scandal.

    4. You lost me at Coulter and Goldberg. I think Fordham's Jesuit President pegged Coulter correctly.

    5. Ann Coulter is an shame to humanity.

  13. And even against Catholic youth. Dr. King is probably rolling at what these perverts have done in the name of God.

    Lynn should be sitting in prison next to a long line of enablers. They sold him up the river. Perhaps when he breathes his last breath he will realize his "brotherhood" did what they've always done. Saved their own a**es. Don't blame a prosecution for the lack of integrity of the priesthood.

    And I'm not a member of SNAP...just a person who took the blinders off and quit drinking the kool-aid.

    1. which perverts exactly? Dr King, were he alive today, would recognize that there is more abuse in Protestant denominations than the Church. Being a man who despised injustice and prejudice, he would call his own church to task, and others - as well as the unethical lawyers and "victims groups" and the myopic judges. And he would insist on putting the current worldwide epidemic of child abuse in perspective and holding a mirror to society.

      “We would be naive and dishonest were we to say this is a Roman Catholic problem and has nothing to do with us because we have married and female priests in our church. Sin and abusive behavior know no ecclesial or other boundaries." Rt. Rev. William Persell, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, Good Friday Sermon, 2002.

      Indeed, Baptist ministers, “Bible Church” ministers, Anglican/Episcopalian ministers, Lutheran ministers, Methodist ministers, Presbyterian ministers- not to mention Seventh Day Adventists, sects and cult groups, Jewish and even Hare Krishnas have been found guilty of abuse in recent years.

      The three companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in America say they typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members. In 2011 there were 7 credible accusations against Catholic priests.

    2. The RCC church in the US has only 41,000 priests in orders and diocese, a third of whom are retired, sick, or absent. As a demographic group, with an average age of 60, the clergy abuse problem will fade more by the advancing age and reduced numbers of priests, than by any action by the church itself, courts, or law enforcement. In 1970, the average age of priests was 35 and there twice as many, many of them working in close proximity to children. The number of Protestant clergy is many times the number of priests and they are not old men. Violent crime and sexual offenses dramatically drops off after age 55. Very few priests work around children today, and very few parents would entrust their children to the care and custody of a priest. The AOP suspension resulted in a significant percentage, 5%, with credible allegations against them, and this was last year. Most of those allegations are from when these priests were younger. In thirty years, absent a huge increase in vocations, not only will clergy abuse be a thing of the past, but clergy will be a rare phenomenon. The projections that the church itself has made is that there will be about 12,000 priests in active ministry in 25 years, and the average age will be above 60. So, yes, if I were an insurer, given that the statute of limitations has run when most of this group was active, and there will be fewer, older, and not teaching, it is a fairly good risk. Claims will go down because there are just not that many younger, sexually active, healthy priests, and they don't work around kids. The same is not true for Protestant sects.

    3. "Vatican says number of Catholics, priests, bishops worldwide increased"
      Sorry to disappoint you, but the numbers for the true Church are holding up nicely: "The number of Catholics in the world and the number of deacons, priests and bishops all increased in 2010...The number of seminarians around the world showed continued growth."

      Meanwhile, protestants are leaving their churches in droves in the US - with many coming home to the true Church.

    4. Justone, "the Vatican says" pretty much discounts your claim.

      Where are you getting your numbers? They aren't accurate.

    5. Justone, in 1967-68, there were 8000 post college seminarians, 13,400 in college seminaries, and 16,000 HS seminarians. There are 3400 total last year, which is up to 1988 levels and a reversal of a dramatic decline. So excluding the HS program, which is nonexistent today, there were 21,400 in 68 and 3400 in 2013, college aged seminarians. US population in 1968 was only 200,000,000 compared to 300,000,000 today. Yes, numbers increased slightly from very very low numbers a few years ago, but there were more seminarians in HS, college, and post college in 1968, than the total number of active priests today. The long term trend for the replacement of elderly sick priests from the boom years in the 1960s is not happening, particularly considering the fact that population has increased by 50% since that time. 3,400 out of a population of 300,000,000 is statistically insignificant. It's simple math. Seminary classes are and will continue to be below replacement level despite increases in population. Demographically, catholic priests will be such an obscure and elderly group, that you are not going to see many abuse cases relative to the overall population. Catholic school population is declining in absolute and relative population as well and school students represented virtually all of the victim pool. Worldwide growth is different. Most is occurring in Africa and the Third World. Clergy abuse will continue to be a problem there because there are actually clergy in close contact with children.

    6. My source is the 2012 CARA report and it counts foreign students studying in US seminaries as well. The numbers I cited are catholic seminarians studying in US seminaries. The retention rate, ie, start to graduation is about 75%, and 2/3 of the post doc seminarians are foreign born. About 2/3 of all US seminarian graduates will actually work in the US, so that 3400 number represents less than 2000 priests who will ultimately graduate and work as active priests in the US. It's about 500 new priests per year, and only 1/3 of the number needed to replace retiring, sick, or deceased priests. To put it in perspective, the entire future of the US clergy is less than the graduating class of a single medium sized high school, again, a statistically insignificant group. If you are getting 7 new abuse claims out of such small numbers its significant.

  14. The headline and picture are confusing. All he's doing is what every child molester in prison has to do, which is deny that he did it. It doesn't undo or change anything. He's a hostile witness but the prosecution still has his guilty plea in evidence. The thing that stood out most for me is that the defense lawyers apparently knew this silly plan a week in advance and actually encouraged Lynn to think his case might be undone. For that, the Judge might have to consider sanctions. At a point, they could begin to be perceived as making a mockery of Courtroom 304.

  15. It's interesting because the church kicked Avery to the curb in 2006 for credible allegations. if you go to the Archdiocese website you can see the names and pictures of all the priests who have been restricted or laicized. The Church finding them guilty did not involve the "anti Catholic " world of lawyers,judges etc.. I guess the Archdiocese must be anti Catholic? Now that is an interesting slant. Also interesting is that the United States Conference of Bishops estimates only 2-3% of allegations to be false..false differs from unsubstantiated. So I guess they are anti Catholic too.

  16. Justine,
    That's your argument? It's not just a Catholic problem? I don't know what you are reading, but I never suggested as such.

    I know the numbers, percentages, and stats on child sexual abuse. You may want to check your "percentages." If there are 10 priests total and 100 ministers total and there are 2 offending priests of the 10 and 10 offending ministers of the 100, then sure ministers have "more "offenders." But, when looking at the "climate" of the priesthood given the percentages, one would have to wonder what system supported, enabled, and allowed such a high percentage of men to offend. I do not discriminate...teachers abuse and unethical administrators look the other way and/ or pass them on. Families top the charts for child sexual abuse. We all get it. It's not just Catholic priests. But, there is a trial going on surrounding questionable men in a Catholic system AGAIN. It's not because they are targets, it's because they continue to lie and cover up and there's pressure on the judicial system to quit giving Catholic priests, bishops, and cardinals a pass when it comes to criminal behaviors against children.

    I'm not sure if the men will be convicted or not. I don't want innocent men going to jail. But, I'm sick of blind obedience and institutional loyalty at the expense of children.

  17. This is simply outrageous:

    Full Disclosure: Prosecutor in Current Philly Abuse Trial Was Feted at Anti-Catholic Group’s Conference Only Last July.

    As the commentator "Publion" points out in his observations below the above article, "Not only is this prosecutor of a major (such as it is) case not disposed personally to any sort of detached professionalism, but he (in this case) makes no effort to hide his partiality, not only openly attending a SNAP meeting but accepting an award (and most likely making some remarks formally to the attendees). Even though there was clear indication that there would be a second trial (currently going on in Philly) and he would most likely be involved....And this gives rise to the further observation that he clearly wasn’t stopped by any concern that the DA’s Office in Philly would forbid or even frown upon so clear and public a demonstration of connection with so publicly partial an organization as SNAP."

    And so the farce that masquerades as "justice" plays out in Philadelphia.


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