Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Books Under Billy Doe's Bed

By Ralph Cipriano

When Billy Doe's mother testified before the grand jury in 2010, she talked about finding two mysterious books under her son's bed.

"When he went to the Christian Academy," the mother told the grand jury, "We found books under his bed that talked about sexual abuse, and they were from a library. And I would ask him why do you have these, and he would say they were from a girl at school and they need them for a report. And they never went away, they were always there."

"I was always digging through his room and he always had these books," Billy's mother told the grand jury. And we'd question him, did something happen to you, did someone touch you? And he would always say no."

There are two possible explanations for why those books were under Billy's bed.

To Billy Doe's defenders, the books are evidence that back when Billy was a high school student, he was trying to come to terms with the three rapes he had endured as a Catholic altar boy and school kid.

To Billy's detractors, however, the books show a con artist at work, doing research for a future story he would tell to bail himself out of legal jams and drug problems. They think he made the whole thing up.

Billy Doe is the pseudonym the grand jury used for a 24-year-old Northeast Philadelphia man who claimed to be a victim of sex abuse. Billy said when he was a 10-year-old fifth grader at St. Jerome's, he was raped by two Catholic priests. The following year, he said he was raped again when he was an 11-year-old sixth grader, this time by a Catholic school teacher.

The two books about sex abuse are mentioned in the 2011 Philadelphia grand jury report that resulted in the indictment of three priests and a school teacher in connection with the rapes of Billy Doe. All four are in jail.

Msgr. William J. Lynn is doing 3 to 6 years after being convicted of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Billy Doe. Former priest Ed Avery is doing 2 1/2 to 5 years after pleading guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child.

Last week, Father Charles Engelhardt and former Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero were convicted on nine of ten counts involving two separate rapes of Billy Doe. Engelhardt and Shero, who are being held without bail, face a total of more than 90 years in prison when they are sentenced on March 18.

The 2011 grand jury report says:

"It was at an inpatient drug treatment facility that Billy first told someone about his abuse. Billy’s mother testified that she probably should have suspected something before then, because she found two books about sexual abuse hidden under Billy’s bed when he was in high school. She asked him about the books at the time, but he covered up for his abusers by telling her that he had them for a school assignment."

The two books in question according to police records are Know About Abuse, by Margaret O. Hyde, and Child Abuse, Brian J. Grapes, book editor. Both books were borrowed from the Ogontz branch of the Philadelphia Free Library back in 2004.

On Know About Abuse is described as a 93-page book published in 1992 for readers age 10 and up. 

A book review from the School Library Journal describes the book as "a brief, although sufficiently descriptive introduction to the various forms of abuse prevalent in the U.S. ... Hyde shows abuse as affecting a wide range of people at various ages ... Readers gain concrete information on how to help themselves, their friends or family members trapped in abusive cycles. The appended 'Where To Find Help' section includes national hotline numbers and resources; a short glossary and list of further reading complete this clearly written, informative and encouraging volume."

Child Abuse is described by as a 160-page book for ages 15 and up published in 2001. 

A book review from the School Library Journal describes the book as an anthology that "includes essays that initially appeared in periodicals, newspapers, books, government documents and public and private organizational publications ... Pulling no punches, this title covers its subjects well. Useful for research, for reports, and for debates."

Billy Doe was never asked in the grand jury or on the witness stand in two sex abuse trials about the books. But police found library cards tucked inside the books. The cards showed the books were taken out in 2004 by Chanee Mahoney, a 24-year-old young woman who's a 2005 graduate of the International Christian Academy in Northeast Philadelphia. That's the school where Billy Doe transferred after he was kicked out of Archbishop Ryan High as a freshman for possession of marijuana and a pair of brass knuckles.

On Jan. 17, 2012, Mahoney was interviewed by Detective David Fisher of the district attorney's office. In a Q and A format, Detective Fisher recorded his questions and Mahoney's answers.

The interview may shed some light on why the books under-the-bed tale disappeared from the prosecution story line. In the interview with Detective Fisher, Mahoney implies that Billy Doe is a liar, and possibly a thief:

"Q. Do you recall taking out two library books about abuse during your junior year 2004?"

"A. I don't remember."

"Q. I'm showing you the books titled Child Abuse by Bryan J. Grapes, Know About Abuse, by Margaret O. Hyde. Do you recall taking the books out of the library?"

"A. Yes."

"Q. Do you recall where the books were loaned from, which library?"

"A. I believe Ogontz Library at Spencer and Ogontz Ave. in Philadelphia?"

"Q. Do you know what happened to the books after you used them for school?"

"A. No."

"Q. Was the reading of the books ... and the school project a group or individual [project]?"

"A. Individual project."

"Q. Do you recognize any of the markings as yours in the books?"

"A. None of them are mine."

"Q. Did you loan either of the books you borrowed to another student?"

"A. No."

"Q. Do you know a student that went to International Christian Academy named [Billy Doe]?"

"A. The name does not sound familiar."

"Q. I'm showing you a photo of the eighth grade picture of [Billy Doe}. Do you recognize the person?"

"A. I recognize him."

"Q. Did you have classes with [Billy Doe]?"

"A. I'm not sure."

"Q. Would [Billy] have been given the same assignment from a teacher if he was in another class but the same teacher?"

"A. Yes, English."

"Q. How would you explain that [Billy] would have had your books that you borrowed from the Ogontz library?"

"A. I never locked my locker at school because I kept my personal belongings on me. He could have gone in the locker. I could have left them out somewhere. I definitely did not give them to him."

"Q. So if [Billy Doe] was to say you loaned or borrowed the library books for him for a subject paper while at International Christian Academy, would that be the truth?"

"A. No."

"Q. Tell me what you recall about [Billy]?"

"A. He was always getting in trouble with school."

"... Q. Is there anything else you can tell me about the books?"

"A. I could have left the books in a class or study hall. That's the only thing I could recall ..."

The subject of the two books was also broached by Detective Joseph Walsh of the district attorney's office on Jan. 9, 2012, when he interviewed Billy Doe's older brother.

"Q. Your parents found two books in [Billy]'s room bedroom dealing with sex abuse. Do you know anything about why the books were in his room?"

"A. No."


  1. Trying to come to terms of what happened to himself before ever being able to have the strength to tell someone else.

  2. I wonder if there were any 'sessions' mentioned in these books?

    1. Brilliant suggestion. I just checked Child Abuse, and there's nothing there. Am trying to locate Know About Abuse.

    2. Hi Ralph.

      I just ordered a copy of Know About Abuse from, and it should be here by the 13th. I'll let you know.

  3. So this tells me that some of the basis of the entire grand jury report, and thus indictment of these men back in 2010, was based on the fact that Billy was a thief who had a book report to do?

    This also sums up that these were maybe two of the worst parents in the world, who had no idea what their kid was doing at school, what he was learning in school, or even tried to help with his behavior during high school. You have to try to get kicked out of two high schools, and Billy succeeded. And the father said on the stand that he and his wife didn't always go to parent teacher conferences when he was at St. Jeromes. Did these parents even care about this kid when he was young? Is this lie based on the fact that he made up this story to get back at his parents for not giving a damn about him? But its OK now, because they are looking at the big payday!!!! Money will cure everything...

  4. Dear Ralph:

    You may be our only salvation. You may be the only course of direction to correct the wrongful convictions against Msgr. Lynn, Father Englehardt and Mr. Shero.

    Please we beg, can you use your outstanding journalistic talent and take it to National News. Could you call and take this story to Dateline or 20/20.

    We cannot bear to see these individuals incarcerated over poor Judgmanship: Theresa Sarmina’s behavior during Msgr.’s trial and violent prosecution by Patrick Blessington.

    Yes, and an uneducated jury where there was 100% doubt of many inconsistencies in Billie Doe’s numerous stories in the trial of Father Englehardt and Mr. Shero.

    The lies and inconsistencies of Billie Doe – D.G. --- and now yet another rehab in Florida. I wonder who is footing that bill.

    The errors and injustices in both of these high profile trials are extreme and a tragic loss.

    We are professional secretaries that are willing to donate our time to help you however possible, only to find the truth and with the end goal of finding justice and correct these tragedies. If you agree to our help, we will find a way to contact you.

    Please take this story to the World. These individuals have been prosecuted for being a Catholic priest and teacher.

    1. Not sure about being anybody's salvation, but my email address is printed at the bottom of most stories. Feel free to contact me.

  5. Dear Ralph,

    Fr. Engelhardt and Bernard Shero are definitely guilty of something - guilty of being a priest and a Catholic school teacher! They are NOT guilty though of sexual abuse. I heard the testimony of "Billy Doe". He claims to not remember what he reported when he initially told his story to the archdiocesan social worker. I was also a victim of sexual abuse and you can be sure that I remember every detail of what occurred as if it happened yesterday. I was in the fifth grade when it happened (not related to school). Can anyone say "beyond a reasonable doubt"!!!! It is hard to believe that a 12 person jury could find them guilty.

  6. Library Book Thief? Really/ Billy's story is riddled with inconsistencies, he is a serial petty criminal, a drug addict, and he was recently caught with felony weight Heroin. Any one of those legitimate significant issues is a reason to question his credibility, But I think you are reaching here with the library books. In 2004, there was something called the Internet with lots of information about abuse, sexual abuse, church abuse that anybody looking for information for legitimate reasons or illegitimate reasons could have accessed.

    Again, a guilty plea and verdicts are pretty powerful evidence of guilt notwithstanding this accusers significant baggage--which goes way beyond unreturned library books. Since the verdict, commentators have posted his name, called him every name in the book, accused the prosecutor and jury of being prejudiced against catholics, and otherwise disparaged the system. The First Amendment does have limits with regard to libel and publishing the names of minor sex victims even if you personally doubt their credibility and think the jury got it wrong.

    Until we actually hear from the jury members who deliberated, we don't really know why they were able to look past Billy's (significant) baggage and convict these two men. My speculation is a rouge juror(s). Others speculate a systemic hatred of catholics and clergy. The evidence for either theory at this point is zero. At some point, one or more of them will talk and I am sure that Ralph will report on it in his usual thorough fashion. But Billy plotting the story in 2004 with the use of stolen library books, call me a skeptic.

    1. KO,

      Don't you see that by these books being for a school project, and not for the use of healing for an abused person (which he is not in my estimation), that some of the groundwork (grand jury report) for the entire indictment of these men was false. As small as you may make it out to be with a future comment, it is FALSE information given to law enforcement for the use of evaluating a crime.

      Archbishop Ryan, where he started HS, has roughly 2,000 kids in grades 9-12. Intl Charter has 155 kids total for grades 9-12

      Thats an average of 38-39 kids per grade. So he definately would have had that project to do, and thus this information and the relevance of these books on abuse should not have been in the grand jury report and used in the indictment.

      It is just another example, like him being in the bell choir maintenance crew as a 5th grader, that is 100% false.

    2. Chippy,

      Even when I agree with you folks, you find additional grounds for disagreement. As Ralph pointed out, there are major inconsistencies in Billy's story--well beyond bell ringing maintenance and library books--and these were inconsistencies made to law enforcement and under oath. He has major character issues that would affect a jury's assessment of credibility--way beyond being a library book thief. (You can indict someone by grand jury with minimal evidence so that's not really an issue). I don't know why the petit jury in this case was willing to overlook these inconsistencies and credibility issues and convict these two men. I personally would not be able to overlook them. But a jury did convict them. You want to believe that they convicted them because they hate the church because that is consistent with your world view. There is zero evidence of that right now, but maybe in your world people are spitting on priests and vandalizing churches. My theory, consistent with my experience with Philly jurors, is that somebody got on who shouldn't have gotten on, and that person had or claimed some knowledge of these defendants. At some point, some juror will talk and we will have more insight, but interpreting the significance of library books under someone's bed --in light of the other things that did come out pertaining to credibility and motive, is like divining tea leaves. This was a trivial post about a trivial issue. By contrast, Billy's brother's absence at the trial, and the unserved subpoena is the proverbial 900 pound elephant--far more significant than the books under his bed.

    3. Well stated KO. I couldn't agree more.

  7. I think the 900 lb elephant in the room is if the grand jury report, which was not minimal evidence, was based on false testimony and facts by Billy and his mother. It is the basis for the whole thing. What other lies are in that document causing this absolute travesty of justice. We wouldn't be here today if the truth was told in those hearings.

    1. We wouldn't be here if the church decades ago took responsibility of the abusive priests they had instead of moving them from one church to another. Hiding the abuse clergy members did in the name of a image.

      I can understand why you would not trust "Billy" because of his past criminal history.

      But, why should anyone trust what the catholic church, their advocates or anyone else who represents the catholic church has to say as truth.

      The catholic church is so much like "BIlly". They also have a criminal history and they also have there liars who have lied.

      People in glass houses should not throw stones.

    2. No. If I go before the Grand Jury and testify that chippy raped me within the statute of limitations, the grand jury will indict--with absolutely no corroboration. There is no cross examination or credibility attack during a grand jury proceeding. The defense attorney is not even in the room. It is merely the prosecutor presenting minimal evidence to support probable cause; and it is the rare grand juror that asks follow up questions. You don't need much evidence to secure an indictment. There is an expression that a prosecutor can indict based upon evidence of a ham sandwich being waved around the room and that is basically true. It is true for a priest defendant and it is true for any defendant. Really, read about the grand jury standard before you post something that is completely ridiculous. Billy was impeached with inconsistent grand jury testimony (and statements he made to law enforcement) at the time of trial. The jury overlooked those inconsistencies. Why? Nobody knows right now.

    3. As I said before, I smell a rat. A very large rat.

    4. I guess Father RATzinger will not becoming to Philadelphia in 2015.

  8. Wow, this is really a stretch. A damaged child seeks help covertly to deal with unspeakable crimes, and two stolen library books become a conspiracy theory. Never mind that one man pled guilty, another one tried to kill himself, and a third, Lynn, made astounding admissions about his failure to protect children from known rapists. Two different juries brought convictions.

    If there's to be any national news coverage, it won't be about a child stealing 2 library books in study hall. More like a story about a victim being hounded endlessly by people who have no respect for the law. I agree, though, that national attention is warranted for all of the mind-blowing details of the Philadelphia Abuse Trials.

  9. So this kid, stole library books from a girl in his school and used them to premeditate an accusation he would make years later? And in between that time, he abused drugs, including heroin? Have any of you ever been around drug abusers? I have. They will lie to anyone about anything. They will try to sell their mother for drugs. But have you ever been around an addict trying to get clean? It is still hard to believe them, but I have found that they tend to drop their more outlandish stories. They back away from evidence of their lies. They do not run toward them and keep at them like this kid has. I am not saying I believe him completely. BUT, this was not the only accusation against Avery! There were multiple! The Archdiocese deemed him unsuitable. The Archdiocese deemed the accusations credible.

    “when he compiled a list of 35 pedophile priests, Msgr. Lynn put Father Ed at the top of the list, saying the priest was "guilty of sexual misconduct with minors."The monsignor noted that Father Ed had abused the same minor three times, referring to the victim.”

    So if you don’t believe Billy, believe the Archdiocese that you so adamantly defend.

  10. Justone, lets assume for a moment that the root of all these allegations against the church, many of the determined founded by the bishops, is money. The church is a crappy target for this type of con for many reasons. Unlike wealthy eccentric people in the community, priests themselves are usually judgment proof. Suing the church usually requires additional elements of knowledge that the abuse took place and an opportunity to prevent the abuse. Otherwise vicarious liability for the priest's conduct can't occur. If there really was an epidemic of false rape claims organized as a conspiracy, every athlete, celebrity, or wealthy person would be a target. Donald Trump abused me when I was a childhood friend of Ivanka! If the jury believes me, then I don't have to prove that the Trump
    Organization's supervisors were aware. Every rich guy that ever coached his kids little league team would be defending these claims. They aren't. And there are lots of strange rich guys with creepy reputations, substance abuse problems, or kinks that would make them attractive targets for he drug addict looking to score a quick cash settlement.
    The sickness that infected catholic clergy occurred because of a seminary subculture where gay teachers preyed on other seminarians, and seminarians acted out with each other because there were no females. The self loathing shame and secrecy from this behavior, and the general sexual immaturity of seminarians during the post war boom, created a significant minority of broken priests, a tiny slice of whom were pedophiles, and a larger group who could only relate sexually to teen boys. A larger group of priests were simply closeted gay men who had acted out themselves in seminary and in their twenties who kept the secrets and enabled the broken priests because they themselves were compromised. In other words, most priests and bishops know very well who was involved with whom. These were small schools and the relationships were relatively known. Other priests acted out with women. So even the unbroken priests who acted out with adults had baggage and couldn't hold the broken priests accountable without their own baggage being exposed. And like dirty cops, the priests had every incentive to corrupt each other so their baggage would be left unopened. Read Ralph's Hoover post from his earlier blog. It's very accurate on the culture.


    Sometimes you need to destroy a structure so you can build a better one. I wish all catholics the best. We can only hope that a better individual is put in place to deal with the MANY problems facing the church. Catholics should look at this as a good day.

  12. Thank you for your best wishes, Dennis. If I may, I would suggest rather a hope that Pope Benedict's successor also be a man of wisdom and grace, with the fortitude to face the many problems facing the WORLD today.

  13. These are quotes from AP that most of us already new. But I want to share them because I think it is important for those who may have their heads still buried in the sand. I have also have heard of RUMORS and I will be repeat RUMORS that Interpol was also involved in the pope's decision.

    The following is from AP:

    Over the course of just a few months in 2010, thousands of people in Europe, Australia, South America and beyond came forward with reports of priests who raped and molested them as children, and bishops who covered up the crimes.

    Documents revealed that the Vatican knew well of the problem yet turned a blind eye for decades, at times rebuffing bishops who tried to do the right thing.

    Benedict had firsthand knowledge of the scope of the problem since his old office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which he had headed since 1982, was responsible for dealing with abuse cases.

    But Benedict never admitted any personal or Vatican failure. Much to the dismay of victims, he never took action against bishops who ignored or covered up the abuse of their priests or moved known pedophiles to new posts where they abused again.

    justone1618 - I mean what I said earlier, but before any successor attempts to deal with world problems, he must first take care of the issues in his own house, and the best way to show the world that clergy abuse will not be tolerated is to return any priests who have had a safe haven in vatican city is to return them so they may face prosecution.

    1. Dennis, if they are RUMORS then why bother to peddle them?

      Also, the standard of journalism and editorial in this country has sunk so low that you really need to filter most of what you read. Leading the pack in this descent into gutter press agenda journalism is the New York Times. Its coverage today of matters Catholic is past comical. It's plain weird. James Taranto ruthlessly exposes it in an excellent piece in the country's only remaining intelligent newspaper, The Wall Street Journal: "The New York Times's weird coverage of the president and the pope"

  14. ◦No one did more to successfully address the problem of priestly sexual abuse than Joseph Ratzinger. Just weeks before he was chosen to be the new pope, he spoke bluntly about this issue: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to Him!”

    The above is a comment that Bill Donahue of the Catholic league has made. This is an individual who I stated earlier still has his head buried in the sand or in other place. Sorry Bill, people are not drinking the kool-aid.


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