Thursday, March 14, 2013

D.A.'s Grand Jury Report Riddled With Errors

By Ralph Cipriano

If the 2011 Grand Jury report on sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was a term paper, the district attorney would have gotten a failing grade for sloppy work habits and at least 20 factual errors.

It's too bad they're not taking questions down at the D.A.'s office right now, because the public has a right to know what went wrong with this grand jury report. But the spokesperson for the D.A.'s office has refused to answer questions all week.

The factual errors in the grand jury report are contradicted by grand jury testimony, trial testimony, and the results of the district attorney's own investigation.

It's a shameful work product. Somebody screwed up.

Let's take a look at what the grand jury report from Jan. 21, 2011 had to say. It's posted online, so readers can check it out for themselves.

Let's start with the biggest mistake. Eleven times in the grand jury report, the district attorney said that Father James J. Brennan raped 14-year-old Mark Bukowski back in 1996. This excerpt is from pages 11 and 12 of the grand jury report:

Father Brennan, who was now shirtless, insisted that Mark remove his gym shorts and climb into bed with him in only his underwear, which Mark did. Mark attempted to sleep on his side, with his back to Father Brennan, because he was afraid to look at the priest. As Mark lay in that position, Father Brennan hugged him from behind, resting his chin on Mark’s shoulder and pulling the boy closer to him.

When Father Brennan pulled Mark toward him, Mark felt Father Brennan’s erect penis enter his buttocks. Mark began to cry, and asked himself over and over again, “Why is this happening?” as Father Brennan anally raped him. Mark fell asleep that night with Father Brennan’s penis still in his buttocks.

When he testified before the grand jury on Oct. 8, 2010, here's what Mark Bukowski said:

I got into bed with him [Father Brennan] and he was now shirtless and insisted not in a violent or threatening way that I should remove my gym shorts. So I did, got into the bed and immediately took the position of having my back to him because I didn't want to look at him ...

He began to hug me from behind and rest his chin on my shoulder with his beard scratching my upper neck area. He continually pulled me closer, while moving closer himself with his arms around my upper chest. This time I felt his erect penis between my butt cheeks. My boxers were still on, however, I do not know if he had shorts on. With the way it felt and how aggressive, yet gentle he was, it was if he wanted to pull himself through me and for me to come out the back of him. I remember lastly thinking what the fuck happened tonight and crying myself to sleep with his penis still between my butt cheeks, saying to myself over and over again, why is this happening?

Ok, we can all agree a priest should not be in bed with a 14-year-old boy under any circumstances. A priest should also not be engaging in any conduct remotely close to what Mark Bukowski was describing. However, it's a literary crime for the district attorney to turn what Brennan's lawyer would contemptuously describe as a "savage spooning" into an anal rape if the alleged victim still has his boxer shorts on. And so did the alleged attacker.

Rape would seem to be an anatomical impossibility, right?

Father Brennan was tried last year as a co-defendant with Msgr. William J. Lynn. On the witness stand Mark Bukowski testified that both he and the priest had t-shirts and boxer shorts on the night they spent in the priest's bed.

The grand jury report called for indicting Father Brennan and charging him with rape and involuntary deviant sexual intercourse with a minor. But when the trial began, the rape charge against Father Brennan had been reduced to attempted rape, with no official explanation.

Yet, over and over again in the grand jury report, the district attorney used the words raped and sodomized when referring to what Father Brennan allegedly did to 14-year-old Mark Bukowski:

-- That same summer, Brennan arranged for his sleepover with Mark, and sodomized him. [Page 5, grand jury report].

- As a result of the rape, Mark developed significant psychological and substance abuse problems, and attempted suicide. [page 38].

-- At the time of the rape, Mark was a happy, well-adjusted boy who played several sports and had no problems in school. But the sexual assault by Father Brennan triggered significant psychological problems, including depression, which in turn led to a dramatic weight loss and left him so emotionally damaged that he was at times unable to even to leave his house. [page 38].

-- In addition, the rape led Mark to turn to drugs and alcohol for comfort, and contributed significantly to a substance abuse problem that would affect his performance in school, damage his relationship with his family, and cause a crisis of faith. Mark even went so far as to attempt to kill himself by overdosing on pills before undergoing counseling and beginning to turn his life around. [page 38].

-- Three years after the rape, Father Brennan exposed himself to Mark at a time when Mark’s life was already spiraling out of control. [page 40]

-- Mark’s private records would have been statutorily protected from disclosure during a criminal trial. By handing these over to Father Brennan, Archdiocese officials not only risked making the eventual prosecution of the priest more difficult, they needlessly exposed an already scarred victim to further trauma by making the most private details of his life available to the man who raped him. [page 106].

-- This Grand Jury’s responsibilities are not limited to suggesting criminal charges against those responsible for the rapes and molestations of Billy and Mark. [page 117].

It's hard to imagine a bigger screw-up. The district attorney was writing a grand jury report on sex abuse, and there were just two victims that the D.A. was going to run with, and charge people on -- Mark Bukowski and Billy Doe. The D.A. should have made damn sure whether Mark Bukowski was raped or not.

The correct answer -- no -- is right in Mark Bukowski's own grand jury testimony. Did anyone at the district attorney's office proof-read this document, or fact-check anything? 

Let's go back to a previous grand jury passage about Mark Bukowski. In it there's a second error:

-- Three years after the rape, Father Brennan exposed himself to Mark at a time when Mark’s life was already spiraling out of control. [page 40]

At the trial of Father Brennan, Msgr. Kevin Quirk showed up to read a 55-page transcript of a 2008 ecclesiastical inquest of Father Brennan into the record. Msgr. Quirk, a West Virginia priest with a doctorate in canon law, was the canonical judge at the inquest. In the transcript, Bukowski backed off the charge that Father Brennan had exposed himself to Bukowski.

"The accused had withdrawn that part of the allegation," Msgr. Quirk told the jury. Msgr. Quirk testified that Bukowski told him his mind was "scrambled" about the alleged exposure incident, adding, "I'm just saying I don't remember."

Regarding Billy Doe, the grand jury report made several mistakes contradicted by the district attorney's own investigation, such as:

-- That was the beginning of a longer journey. Billy stopped talking with friends and started smoking marijuana. He would often gag and vomit for reasons the doctors could not discern. He checked books out of the library about sexual abuse. By high school he was taking pills, and then heroin. [page 17]

As has been previously reported on this blog, Billy did not check those sex abuse books out of the library; those books were checked out by a female classmate, according to a library card found in the books. When she was interviewed by detectives, the classmate said she had used the books for a school assignment and that she never gave those books to Billy. She told a detective that Billy might have taken the books out of her locker, without her permission.

In the grand jury report, the D.A. criticized Louise Hagner, an archdiocese social worker, for allegedly harassing Billy Doe:

Thus Billy was practically chased out of his house in pursuit of a statement, after repeatedly declining to speak. [page 9].

The grand jury took another shot at Hagner:

The result of Ms. Hagner’s unprofessional, forced interview with a distraught Billy is a document that the Archdiocese and defense attorneys will undoubtedly find useful in trying to cast doubt on Billy’s story. [page 99].

Was Billy Doe forced to talk to Louise Hagner? Was Billy Doe distraught when he talked to Louse Hagner? That's not what Billy Doe told the grand jury on March 19, 2010. 

Billy Doe's story was that he snuck out of the house, against the wishes of his police officer father, and voluntarily "hopped" in the car with Louise Hagner and a colleague. Billy Doe also testified to the grand jury that far from feeling distraught when he talked to Louise Hagner, "I was high out of my mind" on heroin:

Q. After they [archdiocese social workers] called you on your cell phone and told you they wanted to meet, what happened after that?

A. I agreed. I told my father. He said he didn't want them coming over the house ...

Q. So what happened after that?

A. They [archdiocese social workers] ended up coming to the house and knocked on the door. He [Billy's father] wouldn't let me answer. So I snuck out and went and talked to them in the car.

Q. Do you recall why you snuck out and went against your dad to go talk to them?

A. ... I was wasted. I was high out of my mind ...

Q. What drug were you on?

A. Heroin.

Q. So you were on heroin. Do you recall what happened after you went outside?

A. I went and I hopped in the car with this lady and she drove down the street a little bit and parked the car.

Q. Did she identify herself to you? Did she say where she was coming from?

A. I remember her saying she was from the Archdiocese, victim services.

The grand jury report contains others mistakes involving Billy Doe:

-- This Grand Jury investigation began with the tearful testimony of “Billy.” Billy was a 10-year-old student in Barbara Mosakowski’s fifth-grade class at St. Jerome School in Philadelphia when two priests molested and orally sodomized him during the 1998-99 school year. Billy had signed up to be an altar boy at St. Jerome Church because his brother, who was three years older, had been one. He also participated in the “maintenance department” of the school’s bell choir, meaning that he took the bells out of their cases before choir practice and put them away at the end. [page 13].

As reported previously on this blog, detectives interviewed the music director at St. Jerome's and another teacher who had performed in the bell choir since its inception. The two witnesses told the detectives the same story: only eighth grade boys were allowed to be members of the bell choir maintenance crew because the bells, bell cases and tables that the bells rested on were so heavy. Not 10-year-old fifth grade boys like undersized Billy, who, according to the district attorney, weighed only 63 pounds when he was 10. Meanwhile, Billy's former teachers testified at trial that the bell cases and tables weighed some 30 pounds each. Does anybody believe a 10-year-old, 63-pound Billy could pick something up half his weight?

The teacher and the music director also told detectives that the maintenance crew set up the bells and then left. It was the members of the bell choir who were responsible for putting way the bells and equipment after the concert was over. The bell choir maintenance crew was long gone by this time, the teacher and music director told detectives.

Here's another couple of facts in the grand jury report that relied on Billy Doe's stories that were subsequently contradicted by the district attorney's own investigation:

-- Billy’s first uncomfortable encounter with a priest took place after he served an early morning weekday Mass with Rev. Charles Engelhardt. While Billy was cleaning up in the church sacristy, Father Engelhardt caught him drinking some of the leftover wine. The priest did not scold the 10-year-old altar boy. Instead, he poured him more of the sacramental wine and began asking him personal questions, such as whether he had a girlfriend. [page 13].

Billy's older brother, who was an altar boy and a sexton, told detectives that it was the job of the sextons to take care of the left-over communion wine after mass, and not the altar boys. Several priests from St. Jerome's told detectives the same story.

Billy's story about serving at an early morning weekday Mass was contradicted by extensive monthly calendars that his mother kept, which showed that Billy did not serve as an altar boy during an early morning Mass for the entire 1998-99 school year he was enrolled in fifth grade at St. Jerome's Church.

Here's some more sloppy work by the District Attorney:

Even on its own, Billy’s testimony regarding the abuse by those men, which we have found highly credible, is sufficient to establish each of those offenses under Pennsylvania law. Moreover, we note that Billy’s testimony is strongly corroborated both by his contemporaneous medical complaints and by Father Avery’s established history of sexual abuse.

As has been reported on this blog, Father Avery's history as a sexual offender proved just the opposite, that the story described by Billy Doe did not fit into Avery's well-established pattern as a molester.

As to whether Billy was a credible witness or not, that's a matter of opinion taken as fact by the district attorney in the grand jury report. Billy's drug counselor did not think Billy's story was credible. Again, as has been reported on this blog, Billy's story was contradicted by at least eight witnesses interviewed by detectives. They included priests, nuns, teachers and the music director at St. Jerome's, Billy's former drug counselor, and Billy's older brother. In addition, calendars kept by his own mother contradicted Billy, as did church records.

Is that a credible witness?

Here's another misstatement of grand jury testimony:

-- Billy’s mother also told us of a dramatic change in her son’s personality that coincided with the abuse. His friends and their parents also noticed this personality change. Billy’s mother watched as her friendly, happy, sociable son turned into a lonely, sullen boy. He no longer played sports or socialized with his friends. He separated himself, and began to smoke marijuana at age 11. By the time Billy was in high school, he was abusing prescription painkillers, and eventually he graduated to heroin. [page 17].

That's not what Billy's mother told the grand jury on Nov. 12, 2010. She testified that she noticed a dramatic change in her son when he was a 14-year-old freshman in high school, not when he was at St. Jerome's:

Q. Did there come a time when you noticed a change in [Billy's] behavior?

A. Yes. At age 14, as he entered high school, freshman year at high school, he wasn't the same child. He was very troubling to us.

Q. Ok. Prior to that, what was his personality?

A. He was basically a very pleasant, active, happy person prior to that and he was defined by some people as either Dennis the Menace or the All-American boy up to that point.

Q. Ok. So he's leaving St. Jerome's and entering into high school?

A. Uh-huh.

This is either incredibly sloppy work, or a willful and deceitful twisting of the facts to fit a preconceived story line.

Aside from the outright mistakes in the grand jury report, there are also some highly suspect stories trotted out as facts that came straight from the mouth of Billy Doe.

For example, the grand jury report ran with Billy Doe's story that Father Charles Engelhardt and Father Edward Avery used the code word "sessions" to describe their rapes of Billy Doe. Three times in the grand jury report, the district attorney asserts that two priests used the word "sessions" as a code word for child rape.

But when the district attorney sent detectives out to investigate Billy Doe's story, after a grand jury report had been issued and five defendants had been indicted and arrested, the detectives found a far more likely origin for the word "sessions" -- it was a term used by drug counselors at one of Billy Doe's 23 drug rehabs.

The district attorney's grand jury report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is inexcusably sloppy work. That's on top of a shoddy "historic" prosecution that put indictments and arrests ahead of investigation.

District Attorney Seth Williams should come out of hiding and explain to the public why his grand jury report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia contained so many errors. He also should explain why his prosecution of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia perverted the normal logical order of an investigation to advance an incredible story line told by a non-credible witness.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I understand that Judge Hughes supervised this Grand Jury from the delivery of the testimony itself to authorizing the presentment (the report itself) and the subsequent arrest warrants.

    If these transcripts are not 'secret', her comments might prove enlightening. Are they available?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. "Rape would seem to be an anatomical impossibility, right?"

    No. Wrong. He said he had boxers on, Ralph. Boxers. You highlighted it yourself in your quote. Rape is very much an anatomical possibility. Your grade of F is based on a completely false premise. The District Attorney should not come out and answer any of these things.

    You have no idea what books Billy might or might not have checked out of the library regardless of what books some other girl had. Billy's older brother has no idea whether a sexton put the wine away after every single mass during every single year. No one has any idea whether Billy's mother's calendar was absolutely error-free year after year. A lot of people use the word "sessions". It is not an obscure word. Avery's well established patterns of child molesting do not prove the opposite of anything. This just gets worse and worse. There's nothing in this column that raises any significant question.

    1. Why then, if your storyline is to be believed, did the charge against Brennan go from rape to attempted rape? How do you explain that away? The DA's own detectives found that it was the classmate who checked those books out of the library, and not Billy. They read a library card about who the books were borrowed by. You can't follow that trail?

    2. Sarah everything you listed would or should have left reasonable doubt in the minds of law abiding citizens who were selected as part of a jury. In Brennan's case they saw it. The recent trial it looks like common sense was ignored.

    3. Like I said, the recent trial had among jurors, some powerful female jurors who took over the deliberations and set up ground rules to ensure both the priest and teacher were convicted of all the charges. Then they set up an agreement not to talk to the media about the deliberations as a contract among themselves never to be broken. Whoever was that powerful took upon herself to ignore all the credible evidence against Billy Doe and to convict both defendants.

    4. How do you know about this contract?

    5. James, how did you hear about this "contract?" From being in the cortrorom and reading a comment made by one of the alternate jurors, it does seem that something went on with the jury during deliberations. Please share. Thank you.

    6. All it says is "He checked books out of the library about sexual abuse." Do you know for a fact that he never checked any sexual abuse book out of any library during these years? The charge could have been reduced for a number of reasons. But it certainly wasn't because boxers prevented rape.

      James, I haven't heard that any jurors have spoken to the media. Did one of them speak to you? How do you come by this astonishing claim about powerful female jurors and contracts? This is the kind of rumor mongering that Ralph and the Beasley Law Firm are stoking.

    7. Frank, that alternate juror's comment was called into question. It was the wife of the juror commenting, and then it was the wife pretending to be her husband commenting. This is more rumor mongering.

    8. Sarah,

      Billy told the DA's detective that he got the books out of the library on Ogontz Ave by his high school. The detectives went to that library to investigate and found the books. During his High School career (3 schools), the books were not checked out by him, but by another student at a small charter school who had the same class as him.

      Why do you and others ignore the facts that have been repeatedly printed on this blog to defend a thief, drug addict, and criminal?

      Why do you think he is so credible in light of what you have read on these blog stories that you and others repeatedly comment on?

    9. Sarah, how do you know that? Were you present when this juror's wife wrote on and then when her husband wrote? And even if it was her pretending to be her husband, who would even do that, he had shared with her what went on during the trial and all of "Billy's" lies. Before you even comment, you weren't there to witness this trial. And before you bring up other cases, they have nothing to do with this case. I don't care about all of the other priests and sex abuse that has gone on. This blog has been mostly about Shero and Engelhardt and the unfair trial they received. Stop bringing up other trials. We are only here to talk about THIS trial. You obviously are keeping up with Ralph's blog because you comment on just about everything. Take all other trials out of your mind for one second and focus in on this trial, there have been so many inconsistencies in this case, how can you honestly believe this drug addict after reading Ralph's articles?

    10. Chippy, because two different juries, 24 people unknown to each other, convicted these defendants in June and then again in January.

      Please name the facts you are talking about.

      Libraries get rid of books all the time. It is impossible to know definitively what books were checked out or not checked out back then. That is a fact. It can be proven that another girl checked out some books. But it cannot be proven that Billy did not check out books which the library may no longer have.

      A lot of people are repeatedly commenting here. My reason is that this rumor mongering by a law firm has to be stopped. The law firm knows the difference between conjecture and fact, and it also knows that several commenters here do not understand the distinction. At some point, the law firm will need to review its professional ethics.

    11. Frank, were you sitting there with the wife when she was commenting? I wasn't, but I was on that thread and saw the very questionable claims she was making about her husband.

      This blog is about both trials, Frank. Both resulted from the same Grand Jury Report, the subject of this particular column.

      It doesn't matter whether I believe the drug addict or whether you do. Both juries did. We are Americans. Juries decide criminal trials based on the Criminal Codes put in place by centuries of lawmakers. If you're trying to undo that, you're taking on a monumental, nearly impossible, task.

    12. Libraries may get rid of books, but that is not what we are being told by the detectives. Stop making things up as you along. They did not say another girl checked out these books, but Billy had them too so there may have been other copies. We are being told that 2 books were checked out at this library during this kids junior (I think) year. Those books were accounted for during the investigation. Those books were checked out by someone other than Billy for a book report for a English class, which Billy had the same teacher during the same school year. We are not told that during the investigation it was discovered that there were two sets of these books at the library and only one copy still exits. These are the DA's detectives, not anyone related to the defense mind you.

      Comment on facts and stop stretching the truth.

      He stole the books for a book report. It should have been disclosed that he had a book report for school using those books during the grand jury.

      And another thing, unless the mom was in on this scheme from the start. She obviously did not care to know what her troubled child was doing in school. If she did, she would have remembered some highlights of the type of reports he had done on this subject when questioned under oath by the grand jury.

    13. Contracts? When groups of people meet to work together to solve a problem (not only juries), they enter in a contract as to how they will work together and what they will do and will not do. This particular jury apparently chose to disregard evidemce presented by the defense attorney for the two defendants and to convict them on the belief that they believed every word of perjurious testimony Billy Doe uttered in this courtroom. And it is not much to enable one or two strong women to take charge of the jury in reviewing evidence then applying their bullying style as to imply that when Billy Doe is cryinig on the witness stand, he is telling the truth. Objections from others was quickly silenced by the bullies on the jury. Once all submissive, then a gulity verdict was agreed on the charges. After this plus before going to the jury box, they entered in a contract to keep everything discussed in the jury room and to never divulge a word of what was agreed upon in the media.

      Apparently, they have followed the terms of the contract agreed upon as we have heard nothing from them on why they came to that kind of a verdict in the trial, given the perjurious testimony uttered by Billy Doe and supported by the DA.

      Reasonable doubt was not present in this jury. The DA had expected to lose this case, given the poor performance of Billy Doe in contradicting himself and was surprised by the verdict. Much like going home thinking you failed the test only to find out you scored a 80!

    14. Sarah, did you get fired by the Beasley firm? You certainly seem to have an ax to grind.

    15. No, Frank, that's not what a contract is. You are describing an agreement, and an unlikely one at that. You can google "elements of a contract" to see where your argument fails. Contracts are the basis of American civil law. It's the very first class that lawyers take in law school.

    16. No, Anonymous, it's not my ax to grind. The Pennsylvania Code of Professional Conduct requires lawyers to comply with certain ethical standards. The Beasley Law Firm appears to be testing the threshold of some of those standards with this blog.

    17. Well thank God you're here to uphold the ethical standards of the Commonwealth. Do continue.

    18. Sarah,

      Still waiting for a rebuttal to my FACTUAL statement regarding the library books and the DA's detectives docs above. Guess I kind've stumped you on that one huh?

  5. Can't stand it that some of your precious pedophile priests have been given a just and well deserved sentence, can you? No matter how much you whine and snivel, the fact remains that the jury weighed the evidence and came to the correct decision. Your attempt at revisionist history is laughable. No wonder so many people are leaving the Catholic Church that "former Catholics" now make up the second or third biggest religious category in this country.

    1. What is wrong with exposing actual facts in this case? As every public official, I am sure the people involved here did things that may boost them for future positions as mayor or governor. I think this DA is no different. The judge whose name is all over the grand jury report is head of a national charity right now. Hopefully this Watergate type scandal will be exposed nationally and the DA and former judge will be exposed for their unethical handling of this case.

    2. Nothing is wrong with exposing actual facts. The problem is that no actual facts are being exposed here. It is all conjecture, hearsay and rumors. Do you consider it an actual fact that James says there was a contract among powerful female jurors? Just because someone says something does not make it an actual fact. It makes it a rumor.


      You think they are because they were not put into the actual grand jury report as they were recorded and you give a criminal, a DA, and a corrupt judge the benefit of the doubt. This was too important to so many people to manipulate these documents just to take down the archdiocese. Innocent men are in jail and their family and friends must be suffering for the unethical work of the Philadelphia DA office. Those are also facts after reading the above.

    4. They are not facts. You have to prove corruption in order for it to be a fact. You prove it by filing charges and taking it to a jury. Or it is proven by a plea of guilty. It is not proven because someone says that someone else is corrupt.

      Now let's tally up how many people you think were in this conspiracy against these Catholic priests and teacher. Ultimately, was it everyone in the City of Philadelphia? At what point does this become massive paranoia and hysteria stoked by the Beasley Law Firm?

    5. For judgment have I come into this world; that they which see not might see; and they which see might be made blind. John: 9-39.

    6. Sarah,

      The grand jury documents above and those presented in court by the defense attorneys that differed from the actual, DA issued, grand jury report are facts.

      The brothers signed statement, contradicting his brother Billy's court testimony and grand jury testimony, with a DA detective is a fact.

      Billy's mothers calenders stating that he did not perform any 6:15 masses as a 5th grader is a fact.

      Billy was not in the bell choir maintenance as a 5th grader is a fact.

      The doors of the sacristy leading to the school, public bathroom, and the altar were never closed between the 6:15 and 8:00 masses is a fact.

      Sextons like Billy's brother, not altar boys, handled the wine at St. Jerome's Church is a fact.

      Sextons were the first people in the church to unlock to doors and the last people to leave the church lock up is a fact.

      Billy told three different stories about what happened is a fact.

      You are defending a person who has been a criminal for over a decade is a fact

    7. Review of Engelhardts/Shero Case:

      We the jury find find Father Engelhardt "GUILTY" Fact

      We the jury find Bernard Shero "GUILTY" Fact

      And until years down the line when an appeal may say different, This day March 15, 2013 these two men have been defined as sexual predators. No ifs, ands or buts about it will change that. FACT

      I can only keep on thinking about that old movie that starred CHER, when she slaps the guy in the face and says "SNAP OUT OF IT"

    8. Ahh, Dennis. Think we have heard this one before. All it looks like is the date was changed. Not sure if you will score points for originality here....

    9. Dennis,

      That doesn't change the facts of the trial, the reasonable doubt, and on and on. You are biased anyway. FACT

      Makes you wonder why someone from the jury has not come out and spoke if they believe in their hearts they ruled correctly with all of the doubt in this case based on my facts above. The Lynn / Brennan jurors spoke immediately after the verdict and that case was 10x more high profile. Would love to know what they are hiding. I assume because they have something to hide. Rogue...

    10. Catholic hate monger alert.

    11. Dennis has changed from biased anti-catholic guilty guy to riding the coat tails of people preaching the law. Have your own voice Dennis, it was a better debate before you got taken to school thus having to run and hide behind others.

      Try to read the articles before commenting, since your comments have had zero to do with the above.

    12. I agree, we need to lighten it up a bit. "Preaching the law" is hilarious. Let's start viewing the law as a religion that needs to preach to get converts, instead of being what it is, the law of the land that applies to everyone regardless of religious conviction. That's a good laugh to end the day with. Much appreciated.

    13. chippy111 - Why would any juror who maybe reading this blog want to come forward ? For him/her to come forward tell you why they voted for a guilty verdict only to be brow beaten by someone like you because you do not agree with them.

      Then you bust my stones for as you say riding the coat tails of an individual who is making sense of all the BS.

      Sorry, I don't live in the same dreamworld as you. But this one is over. In little over a months time these guys will be placed in a van, transported to the court house, stand before a judge who will tell them their future. If you really want to help these guys you and the other followers should drop to your knees, spend every waking moment inside a church praying that the judge shows mercy. Then they will be placed back in the van, transported back to where they came from. Then the state of Pennsylvania will look for a suitable future address for the new residents, with their safety in mind. Where they will most likely remain for years living in protective custody stripped of their name and be known as their future number until their appeal can be heard.

      But here is the real sad part. Ralph and people like you will forget about them, and most likely never send a letter or drive to visit. Because people like you have one belief and that is out of sight, out of mind.

      Sorry this may seem cruel, but it is reality. Now this is where you are wrong about something. I have not changed. I am the same SOB who will pay the city for every drop of fuel to make sure they reach their new destination.

    14. Treading a fine line there Dennis. We all know you are full of s**t when you say you will pay for gas sitting there hoping you get our payout one day. That's what is all about for you.

    15. I guess if I get that big payout as you say I'm waiting for. I would have plenty of money to pay for fuel. Oh, please tell me this fine line I'm walking on. Please, please tell me.

      What a joke !!!

    16. "our payout"? Now the Church's money is yours? but it's not Dennis's or his families or his ancestors. The victims families who co- created the wealth for THE CHURCH in the first place.
      That is now yours to protect?
      It's there to benefit molestors and their enablers the hierarchs but not the victims of that horror?
      You've so identified with the criminals here, you refuse to accept your responsibility to compensate the injured.

  6. Who paid the bills for Billy Doe's 23 drug treatment center visits? His family's insurance plan, his family, someone else, were they written off or are they still pending. Any clues in the Grand Jury or trial testimonies?

  7. This kind of shoddy work by the DA has the potential of putting innocent people in jail the rest of their lives. Given what happened in the trial against the priest and teacher, it is clear that we had a jury that chose to ignore all the evidence exonerating both defendants to ensure they were convicted in order to ensure that Msgr Lynn remained in jail until time for him to be released on parole as they knew that acquitting both defendants had the possibility of Lynn being set free since Avery recanted his guilty plea.

    On March 18th both innocent defendants will get hefty prison sentences with the potential of spending the rest of their natural lives in jail until they pass away. Then it will be far more difficult to win on appellate grounds as it is much better to get an acquittal during the trial than have to file appeals that may fall on deaf ears.

    One thing is for sure, no Philadelphia law firm wants Judge Sarmina and Prosecutor Seth on its staff, given the way they worked.

    1. Not sure if the sentencing is in March or April.

      As for Judge Sarmina being on any Philadelphia law firm's staff, I don't get it. What in God's name are you talking about? Do you believe that law firms hire judges to be on their staff? Is that another rumor flying among the Catholics in Philadelphia? Is the Beasley Law Firm promoting that too?

    2. No law firm would want her, given the way she handled the case.

      Yes, good judges and prosecutors get job offers and that is a feather in your hat when it happens. Jobs we do do not pay the bills well until a lucrative job offer comes in.

      Judge Sarmina and Prosecutor Seth have issues to deal with and those law firms see what has happened during the trial and make thteir own decisions about employability. Hint - when you do not do your court prep work well, it shows in the courtroom. as well as in Big Trial.

  8. The New York Times reports that sentencing is April 18th. Here it's reported as March 18th. Who's right?

    1. The New York Times reporter reads this blog to find out what's going on.

  9. @james I must say when I first read your comment I thought you were being facetious, however after I read your second comment I can see you were not trying to be. I am interested in reading more about the female jurors and their agenda only if you can back it with facts. If not I believe you have moved into first place on Letterman's top ten list for excuses of why these men have been found guilty.

    I am also interested something you said on your second comment "it is clear WE had a jury". Can you define WE ? Are you speaking for the public ? are speaking about those who leave comments here ? or are you speaking about fellow clergy members

    Your statements together may not be able to be seen by others, but you are setting off every danger alarm I have. If I may be bold to ask you, are you a priest, brother, or friar or any other clergy member ?

    1. A few points here:

      First, it would help to put some context to this post if all of the readers (and it seems the author as well) would understand what a grand jury "report" actually is.

      In PA it is called a presentment. It is not evidence. It is not a charging document which actually brings criminal charges against a defendant. It is nothing more than a recommendation from the grand jury to the prosecutors as to whether and what charges to bring.

      Much is made over the use of certain words (i.e. rape) and some embellishments. There is no doubt that whomever wrote the presentment took some liberties, summarized and embellished. But guess what? That is how every grand jury presentment is done. Believe it or not, this is nothing unusual. Grand juries are one-sided affairs. The accused do not have the opportunity to present evidence or confront their accusers. That is why they say a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich. The grand jury is used to investigate. The accused get their chance to defend themselves before and during the trial.

      As you dream up your conspiracy theories and attack every individual in law enforcement in this case, keep in mind that 24 individuals, sitting on the grand jury, signed off on this document as written. They must be part of the conspiracy, too.

      Also keep in mind that the document IS NOT EVIDENCE. The prosecutor must bring charges independently and prove every element of every charge using independent evidence. The only time a grand jury transcript could be used at trial is to impeach a witness who changed their testimony (as i believe happened here), or to present the testimony of a witness that is physically unavailable. Otherwise, the document has no legal significance. It may matter in the court of public opinion, but it matters very little in a court of law so long as the jurors are properly vetted.

      P.S. -

      As to the reduction of the rape charge to attempt, the explanation is very simple. Prosecutors reduce charges all the time based upon what they believe they can prove. They probably decided they could not prove rape but could prove attempt. Once again, very common.

    2. Oh anonymous legal genius, there is so much you can teach us. Please continue to pontificate. So are you saying the truth doesn't matter when these presentments are presented, and that fairness and accuracy means nothing? Damn the grand jury testimony, let's just make up whatever facts fit our slant of the day? That's not how they did that first archdiocese grand jury report. That 2005 grand jury report was a masterpiece, very powerful, and also accurate.

    3. Just presenting the facts. Sorry you don't like them. None of that is opinion. Although you shared your opinion about the 2005 presentment. And you know what they say about opinions...

    4. Sorry counselor. That report was thoroughly gone over by three supervising DAs, lots of other lawyers, and reporters, and nobody found 20 mistakes in it. The falloff in quality of the two reports seems to be factually based.

    5. @ Anon 3:22 - Just to clarify a little more. Your take away from that should not have been that fairness and accuracy means nothing. And I never said or implied that. The point is that - no matter what the presentment says - every element of every charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt with independent evidence. So it means very little. Is that clear enough for you?

    6. And you're not presenting the facts. You're presenting a legal smokescreen in an attempt to excuse a political prosecution. If you believe this DA was pursuing truth and justice you're kidding yourself. There are people in that DA's office that know those defendants are innocent. And both that grand jury "presentment" and the DA's investigation were cooked.

    7. You're playing legal parlor tricks. Am not amused. Four men are in jail for a bunch of rapes that never happened. A junkie hustler conned the system and found a couple of DAs stupid enough to fall for it. Others in that office did not. Only in a high-profile case with the press buying the prosecution line can you have a travesty of this sort. It helps that the defendants wore collars. Justice is not served by perverting an investigation. Or believing a ridiculous set of stories from a conman junkie criminal.

    8. @ 3:36 - A legal smokescreen? No, what I said was pretty much all factual. And by the way, we live in a nation of laws, not men. I know these little law things are a nuisance to your conspiracy theories, but they matter whether or not you like it.

      I was not addressing whether or not the prosecution was political. I was just giving the post some legal context so reasonable people can try to understand the (in)significance of the actual document.

    9. Case has been blown way out of proportion by the media with salaciuos reporting as it was a Catholic priest molesting boys in a sacrisy. We, Philly Catholics, are familiar with what goes on in church and in school. Interesting that we have reports from Billy and Mark B., two admitted heroin abusers with criminal records. Just those two guys who shoot themselves high and have assorted problems.

      Where are the other people? No else one has stepped forward to claim they were abused along with Billy and Mark B.

      Had this trial been held out of Philadelphia, we would get a jury more questioning of the veracity of the accuser and of the evidence provided by the prosecution in arguing for convictions.

      After all, one could spend the rest of his life in jail until death comes in the door. That is why having a good jury is important.

    10. It may not have legal significance but it was published all over the country by the press as gospel truth. Does that have any impact? Do you believe Billy Doe's fantastic stories about being a rape victim passed around between a couple of priests and a teacher? Go through the secret archive files of the Philadelphia archdiocese and all of the other victims and see if you can find a similar fantastic story. Common sense says he made it all up. Go through the story. It makes no sense. But you want to hide behind legal nonsense, like you have some exalted knowledge that the rest of us don't possess. If a man is in jail for a crime that didn't happen, even a high school dropout can understand that that is not fair. But you seem to be missing the point as you regurgitate Law 101.

    11. I wasn't at the trial, were you? I would not be so presumptuous as to judge someone's credibility from afar, which is why I don't comment on it. Regarding you comment about the press coverage, see my initial post about the court of public opinion. You have very selective reading skills. And why is it that all of the apologists on here resort to ad hominem attacks instead of addressing the substantive arguments? Is that the eleventh commandment that I missed?

    12. Gas bag alert.

    13. Case in point.

    14. What happens when Dennis's danger alarms go off? I don't think I want to hang around and find out.

    15. Anonymous 3:58 first thank you again for your input. But also not taking any side. You are explaining the law that any closed minded individual can understand. I only wish you had a different title so I could go straight to your comments.

      Your giving advise that most attorney's would charge $300.00hr for.

      Thank You. I wish I could send you a bottle or case of your favorite beverage.

      God forgive me if I sent this to the wrong anonymous.

    16. Anonymous 4:02 If it comes to the safety of my family.

    17. @ Dennis - Thanks. I know this is a very heated debate on both sides and I see that people attack you a lot for disagreeing with it. I don't think that adds anything to the conversation. I'm just trying to add some context because I noticed that people make these wild allegations with no regard to the legalities of the situation. Like pointing out that hearsay and speculation are not admissible in evidence. I think that's an important thing that a lot of people don't seem to realize. Same with the presentment having very little legal significance. We have these rules of law and rules of evidence so that we don't have trial by mob or trial by public opinion. Rules that have been developed and refined over centuries. Certainly not perfect, but the best in the world. And as I've noticed Ralph's posts got more one-sided I think it's only right that some balance is added.

      Anyway, I might have to create a screenname so I can be more easily id'd.

    18. How about Oliver Wendell Holmes?

    19. Or Seth Williams?

    20. @ 4:45 - I checked. Justice Holmes already has a gmail account.

    21. anonymous 4:49 Do you have to continue with your total ignorance. I don't know if the other anonymous is a he or she but that is the only person who has given us facts, without taking any side. The only person who has done that since the blog was started. I could step lower to your level but I won't. Now I know this person is capable of defending themselves. But damn, stop being a-hole


  10. Question: Is the archdiocese of philadelphia funding Big Trial

    1. No, Mr Williams.

    2. We have been told no. so we must accept that answer at face value and there has been no proof otherwise. But you are not the first, second or third person to ask that very question.

  11. Replies
    1. Still around but work load ebbs and flows including my own cases. But more importantly, facts are facts and only a fool argues that up is down/ and down is up. I have said well before the verdict was read that I would have acquitted these men because of the inconsistencies. The defense lawyers in this case were very good (and the defense lawyers in Lynn/Brennan were probably the best in the City). I have no explanation why they were unable to exploit the inconsistencies as well as Ralph has been doing in the last series of posts. It is inexplicable. I have previously opined about my concerns about the latest verdict was the product of either (a) rogue juror(s) or simply related to the fact that Billy is closely related to connected cops. The only other point I would make is that there are a number of facts that have been brought out that have not cast any of the major participants in a great light. First, despite the unconventional legal theory, the Lynn trial certainly established the twisted culture of the AOP that allowed questionable priests to be transferred around, despite the protests of honorable priests and nuns. Second, Brennan's admitted conduct with Mark (and his family) was bizarre and unbecoming any priest--whether it was criminal is another matter. Third, regardless of the reason, Avery was a troubled priest who pleaded guilty to a felony. Fourth, the outrage over the AOP's long institutional coverup and frustration that so many of the past cases were time barred created a certain carelessness with respect to how the DA's office handled these investigations and prosecutions. (Two wrongs never make a right). Fifth, "Billy's" allegations are so riddled with inconsistencies that in most instances, the DA would have probably declined to prosecute. Sixth, the verdict is very surprising given the evidence. Seventh, it is highly likely that Shero and Engelhardt were unfairly convicted of crimes against Billy that they didn't commit. From the latest posts, it seems as though the church apologists are willing to ignore points 1-3; and jump on points 4-7 as proof that the entire clergy abuse issue is nothing more than a hysterical and unfair attack on their beloved church. "Victims" and church haters seem willing to ignore or excuse points 4-7. But both sides can exist without any inconsistency; and indeed the second outrage of unfair convictions followed and was dependent upon the first outrage of institutional neglect and complicity.

    2. As usual, KOPride is spot on. The sins of the church, as laid out in the 2005 grand jury report, set the stage for an ends-justifies-the-means prosecution and grand jury report in 2011. It's getting hard to find the good guys here, but when this got started it was all black and white. What the church got away with, abusing children and covering it up, was outrageous and horrible. But justice is not served by staging a couple of political trials based on a couple of unreliable witnesses to string up a few scapegoats, strictly for political reasons.

      It's like the politician who fakes some war medals for political advantage. He dishonors the real heroes.

    3. Again, great work Ralph. It takes a lot of courage to report the story no matter where it takes you. The story of the corrupt AOP and a series of convictions by child molesting priests delivering long delayed justice is a much better story to report and package in this climate. The media machine needs clear good guys and villains. Write a book, spin the facts towards the popular narrative, get on your soapbox, and you will get the same attention in the clergy context that Buzz gets every time an athlete behaves badly. Get some face work done by Buzz's doc, rail against the evil church, and find yourself booked on every cable news outlet. (Nancy Grace will sneer along with you at these predator priests). Although some of the commenters have no clue what or who the Beasely firm is, the latest twist isn't the story that plaintiff's personal injury firms like Beasely who bring priest abuse cases want to tell on the blog they sponsor. For those who believe that there is a vast conspiracy of rapacious plaintiff's lawyers behind these prosecutions, this blog should be evidence that most lawyers--even plaintiff's lawyers who arguably benefit from anti-clergy prejudice -- do want to get the facts right and make sure that the targets are appropriate. (I can assure you that some of the Beasley colleagues in the plaintiffs bar are probably bitching about the content and they aren't making friends). Again, great work. Once upon a time there was a thing called journalism and reporters just reported the facts regardless of where it led them.

  12. The instinctive comments of the alternate juror who commented on straight after the trial are significant. At the time, SarahSNAP basically accused the alternate juror's wife of lying. And in the thread above she writes:

    "Frank, that alternate juror's comment was called into question. It was the wife of the juror commenting, and then it was the wife pretending to be her husband commenting. This is more rumor mongering."

    "Frank, were you sitting there with the wife when she was commenting? I wasn't, but I was on that thread and saw the very questionable claims she was making about her husband."

    In fact, the wife and husband in question share an account on (under the screen name "JillJay"), which is not unusual. If you want to read the exchange here it is:

    What it demonstrates is SarahSNAP's suspicious determination to counter any sign of foul play or misconduct in this trial. To the point of obvious denial. And even, one might suggest, paranoia.

    1. @justone1618

      It would be MOST ENLIGHTENING if the party who blogged as JillJay in the Philadelphia Inquirer would actively participate in these discussions.

      Could it be a married couple (living in Philadelphia) whose wife's first name is Jill and her husband's (the alternate juror) name is Jay?

      This fellow was dismissed before the deliberations took place.

    2. Hi, Joe,

      I am fairly sure that your supposition regarding the names is correct. And, I agree, having the input of "Jay" would be valuable. I am also fairly sure that there are jurors from the trial who will be following this blog from the sidelines, and remaining mute (in the same way that curiosity makes criminals return to the scene of a crime). They should consider the consequences of whatever it was that went on in that room when they gathered to discuss what they had seen and heard. Specifically, they should imagine it was their father or brother or uncle who stood there before them in court, to ultimately be offered up like a sacrificial lamb.

  13. JustOne, have you considered that the jurors will not present themselves because of the comments you post? That's a powerful position to be in. You can literally stop the jurors from discussing the case because you're so mad at them. Maybe it's a Philadelphia thing.

    1. @SarahTX2, justone1618

      All who thirst for justice are perplexed over this jury's decision in the face of screaming reasonable doubt. Even the DA himself did not expect a guilty verdict, and Billy and his family were probably the most surprised of all.

      We have no way of knowing what the judge told the jurors when she dismissed them. I really doubt that the jurors entered into any secrecy pact or agreement - they were probably just relieved to go back to their normal lives.

      Here's one possible explanation of what may have happened:

      Some of the jurors may have told their families and friends that they would be ‘deciding’ this historic case which involved the repeated sexual abuse of a grade school student. This is - at face value - an objectively horrific allegation. Some of the jurors may have been discussing the case either amongst themselves, with family and friends and / or reading media accounts. Who's to say they didn't?

      Considering all that has transpired recently within the Catholic Church in Philadelphia (the Grand Jury allegations, the Lynn conviction), the Sandusky Penn State multiple incidents, the jurors might quite naturally have felt reluctant to explain afterwards why they acquitted.

      The prosecution was apparently able to convince at least some of the jurors that ‘something bad’ had happened to him which caused Billy's downward spiral into drugs, treatment centers and prisons.

      Some of the jurors (or their families, close friends) may have experienced the ravages of either traumatic sexual or drug abuse. This empathy could have caused them to either ignore or minimize the defense's arguments. Undeclared (at voir dire) personal grudges against the Church may also have come into play.

      Maybe after the judge sentences these men on April 18, one or more will explain why they embraced Billy's contradictory abuse 'stories' in the face of multiple testimonies by others which clearly refuted them.

      For all we know, some of them might now be regretting their verdict, looking for a graceful way to come forward with an account of 'undue influence' or other impropriety that may have occurred during the deliberations.

      In the interest of justice, we should all encourage and welcome this exchange.

      Let's hope that they are also following this blog.

    2. SarahSNAP, I have no such power. Neither my words nor yours can convince the jurors to come forward or to remain hidden,silent or complicit. Only their consciences will determine which they do.
      We are all human. We all fail and display weakness at times. God gives us all a second chance, so who are we to deny that to others? Any man or woman who errs, yet has the moral fiber and courage to step forward and hold up their hands in recognition of that error is a decent human being. And, ultimately, a happier one.

    3. You are such a funny little person when you try to write such sincere words after you made the following statements and threats:

      "I actually posted "Billy Doe's" real name and other personal details, including his reported whereabouts. Admin removed the post. If anything, it shows that Ralph affords "Billy Doe" more respect than I do, and is more ethical than I would be in his position".

      "I will continue to report the personal details of liars and false accusers" in cases where those lies have led to wrongful convictions and innocent people are behind bars as a result.

      In such cases there should be no hiding place for the fraudsters, extortionists and perjurers.

      WHY would any jury member come forward after reading this ?

      What would stop you from calling any statement by a jury member a liar because what they say is not something you wanted to here ?

      The only liar in this case is Avery and he will be punished for it by spending all 5 years behind bars, and if charged with perjury even additional time.

  14. Interesting direction this is going. On one hand we have criticism on the way the DA has proceeded with the case by using evidence that cannot be supported by the facts and by believing in a heroin addict with along criminal record who cannot keep his stories straight. That in itself is something no law student would consider doing.

    On the other hand, we have seen the way Chaput approaches the settlement of suspended priest cases after they have been cleared by law enforcement due to statute of limitations issues or the quality of evidence provided by victims. He has kicked out half the accused priests and has welcomed back the other half. There are still a few cases under review by law enforcement and the Cardinal will make the decision later.

    Chaput is drawing from strength of what the US Military is doing in resolving cases of officers accused of wrongdoing. The military believes in the concept of "lack in confidence in your ability to command", Officers have been removed from command for little things such as downloading porn, domestic issues with wife, arrest for DUI as well as the more serious issue of having an affair with someone who is not your wife - adultery. Even worse is having an affair with a person under his or her command. So, Chaput apparently likes the mantra "lack of confidence in your ability to command".

    Eventually, issues against accused priests Lynn, Avery, Englehardt and Brennan will be solved as the case works through the legal process. Even if the cases collapse against all four priests and teacher Shero, then those four priests will have to face Chaput's review before being allowed back into ministry. And what will Chaput do? Will he welcome all four priests back with open arms?

    Most likely not as he will look at each priest with a razor sharp eye. Their fitness to command has been seriously compromised by the issues brought against them and their judgment has been shown as flawed. The only one I could see coming back is Englehardt.

    Still, with Chaput's ruthless scrutinizing of the facts is something way better than Seth Williams scrutinizing of the facts of each abuse case. Prosecutor Seth knows what a screw up he perpetrated in the DA's office especially when all those who read Big Trial see what has happened. Seth knows he does not compare in any shape or form with Cardinal Chaput. And he knows any first year law student would poke holes in the DA's handling of the cases.

    Lesson to be learned. Do not believe everything that is told you and try to use it to win a church abuse case with salacious details. I had to laugh at Billy Doe's accusation that Shero tied a rope around his neck and reamed him for five hours in Pennypack Park! Wokldn't anyone be checking on where Billy Doe was if he was actually being sodomized for that long and not in h is classroom. And all us men know well how difficult it is to keep on pounding someone for five hours straight! This was a red flag right in front of the DA's eyes and he fell for it.

    The alleged rapes in the sacrisy - given the open nature of the room and the frequent movements of people in and out, why would anyone simply ignore what was happening there? Another red flag flapping in front of your eyes.

    A little careful research by the DA would have caused him to drop proceeding on with the case. When in doubt with your evidence, stop and drop. DA did not do it and is now expecting the collective actions of Philadelphia's apathetic population to simply ignore the glaring inconsistencies of the various stories proferred by two heroin addicts.

    However, Big Trial readers catch on and point them out! That good we do.

    1. ...and what was that date again ole Charlie was elevated to Cardinal and earned his red hat ?

  15. Am I in the middle of a "good cop bad cop" show?
    I Know since O.J. Simpson and the not so graceful Nancy Grace that going over and over points ad boredom fills peoples time in America but really this smells like smelt to me.
    First, there have been guilty verdicts. Second, there are appeals to those verdicts.
    It seems to me the only thing being "done" here is "underlining" this case when it needs no "underlining".
    Keeping a spotlight on this case doesn't benefit justice. Justice has and is, through the appelate system, been taken and is taking place.
    So who benefits from rehashing minutia about one case? One case?
    Particularly when no other victims' cases are being "underlined" with such Klieg lighting, (Hollywood premiere light effects).
    Hey! Look at Philly everybody!
    No thanks I'd rather read about other issues concerning victims, our treatment by the Church and by our own not so representative government.
    Imagine if this blog or any other focused on: Why the Rico act is not being enforced by the Feds?
    Now that's the big picture that would effect tens of thousands of victims.
    So I'm challenging neither the "good cops" nor the "bad cops" here but the real victims and our real supporters to walk away from this "display"
    Why? because it's only benefiting one side. Only one, and that's the Church's side in this.

    1. P.S. Really this isn't a "Big Trial" at all. It's a side show; an "also ran". Maybe even a scam.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. @RALPH - do you have access to the court docket ?
    Do you know the date of Father McCloskey's trial, and the retrial of Fr. Brennan. I heard it has been pushed all the way back to October.

    1. Have already printed the Fr. Brennan retrial is now scheduled for Oct. 21.

    2. I learned Fr. Closkeys trial is set for 9/9/13

    3. I NEED TO MAKE A NAME CORRECTION: It is Fr. Andrew McCormick who is set for trial on 9/9/13


  17. I AM COMING FORWARD. I WAS THE 12th1/2 Juror. I had Three family members who also sat on the jury. We paid off the prosecution and defense attorney so we could not be struck. I would tell them lies of abuse, shown movies that would turn your stomach. I told them I was just part of a larger group who decided to take down the catholic church. Ha,ha,ha,ha I could of convicted anyone.

    Folks, this is not what you are beginning to sound like, this is what you sound like. Silly is it not ?

    My apology to any jury member who maybe reading and our justice system.

    1. About coming out - you silly boy, that is so funny. Isn't that something your friend used to say?

    2. It says coming forward idiot.

      What a waste of viable organs for an accident victim.

      You will have to watch an old sci-fi flick what they do to people like you. Its called Soylent Green. You should watch it.

    3. Gay Insults? That's the level you're playing at?
      Inferring someone's gay used to command silence when the bully did it on the school yard.
      Obviously Anon at 3:10pm this behavior still works for you?
      Well the rest of us only look at you as the tired frightened little bully that you are.
      Only fanatics and other religious terrorists hate gay people or think we, speaking for myself here, need saving.
      You and yours are the ones in trouble and in need of help. Professional help.

  18. Let's not forget:

    Avery - issues in past, but passed polygraph regarding billy
    Engelhardt - passed polygraph

    These were very risky moves for the defense attorneys to have their clients take these tests. Why do it when Billy's multiple made up stories should have provided enough doubt for the DA? Because they are innocent, that's why! And, I don't want to hear about Avery pleading guilty. He turned down multiple plea offers even with past issues. He was offered an absolute sweetheart deal that was legal in PA, but was the most unethical move (and there are many) by the DA in the handling of this case.

    1. Not only the most unethical, but the most stupid move which also compromised the trial later on as the lack of preparation and strategic planning led the DA to show total "faith" in Billy Doe, a heroin addict who cannot get his stories straight.

      Offering Avery that plea bargain may well be a harbinger of things to come once the poor planning and strategic thinking hits the fan and blows up in their faces.

  19. Anonymous describes the PA Grand Jury Report as a ‘presentment as opposed to ‘evidence’, ‘….nothing more than a recommendation from the grand jury to the prosecutors as to whether and what charges to bring’. Nothing more, eh?

    He goes on to say…’There is no doubt that whoever wrote the presentment took some liberties, summarized and embellished. But guess what? That is how every grand jury presentment is done……The grand jury is used to investigate. The accused get their chance to defend themselves before and during the trial’.

    The problem here is that this Grand Jury ‘presentment’ is perceived by most as the absolute gospel truth - - - with all its ‘liberties’, ‘embellishments’ and (for that matter and in this case) contradictions and omissions thrown in for good measure. It is indelibly recorded for perpetuity in cyberspace throughout the world and will never be redacted or even updated. Never.

    In my opinion, along with biased media coverage, it’s just another way to subliminally poison the pool from which potential jurors in clergy sexual abuse cases will be drawn.

    In their quest to secure an ‘historic conviction’, I think that the DA’s office played very dirty pool with the Catholic Church in Philadelphia.

  20. Hi folks -

    Here's a portion of a post made by Publion on The Media Report. It is reprinted here with his explicit permission. I thought you might find it informative.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    ....A bit of background: the purpose of the Grand Jury is to determine if a prosecutor has enough evidence to bring Charges. The Grand Jury thus exists to consider the evidence that the prosecutor has, and for the vital purpose of determining if that evidence warrants Charges and a trial.

    In a Grand Jury presentment, there is no judge and there are no defense attorneys; it is purely an affair dominated by the prosecution, in which the Jurors (not screened for bias in any way) are led by the prosecutor through such documentary evidence and testimonial evidence (from witnesses – who must appear in the session without benefit of counsel) as the prosecution has compiled. If the Jurors are in agreement with the prosecution, then they will approve the prosecution’s bringing Charges, and if not, not. (In Fiscal Year 2000, in this country, out of some 59 thousand-plus suspects, Grand Jurors refused the prosecution in only 29 instances.)

    One anonymous commenter, who seems to imply a working – if not also professional – knowledge of the legal system and its workings, has said that material presented to a Grand Jury does not constitute evidence; and thus the prosecutor has to prove all of the Charges in the trial itself. But, the anonymous commenter continues, one cannot expect that what the DA presents to the Grand Jury is actually “evidence”. Frequently, this commenter says, prosecutors will embellish or otherwise accentuate their case when presenting it to the Grand Jury.

    The thought quickly occurs to me: if a Grand Jury is expected to examine the actual evidence that a prosecutor has, but the prosecutor is not required to provide evidentiary-grade material, then how is the Grand Jury supposed to perform its assigned and intended mission? And consequently what validity does any subsequent Report by that Jury have? To what extent might its Report be deranged by the inaccurate information fed to it by prosecutors supposedly guiding the Jurors through the warrantable evidence for bringing Charges?

    Further, since Grand Jurors are not screened for bias in any way, then it seems hardly a difficulty for an enterprising prosecutor to manage a rather ‘friendly’ bunch of Jurors. And this would be especially so if the public (from whom the ranks of all jurors are chosen) has already been pre-soaked in some form of PR Stampede such that they are convinced that they “know” “what everybody knows” about the subject of the prosecutor’s presentment.

    So it seems to me – thanks to Mr. Cipriano’s recent work and the comments that his site has sparked – that the Grand Jury also becomes a possible (perhaps probable) tool in creating – not simply prosecuting – Abuse cases.

  21. We have investigating grand juries, composed of volunteers who investigate an alleged incident with evidence provided by the DA. Then the grand jury indicts and is disbanded.

    Before the trial starts, notices are mailed to hundreds of people who are registered voters and they are asked to come to the courtroom where both the defense and prosecution can screen them. As many as 60 people may be called to fill a 12 member grand jury pool plus alternatives. Even mroe may be called if the case is controversial and they run out of people to screen. This phase is much like a football draft when teams screen through hundreds of candidates for chosen diamonds.

    This selected grand jury is the one impanelled to hear evidence once the trial starts.

  22. Stay on topic people. Some great information is being shared. The personal attacks are not needed

    Can anyone enlighten us on how appeals work and how long they take. Three innocent me (Lynn, Shero, Engelhardt) sit in prison I don't know Lynn or Shero but spent a few yrs as a student with Fr Engelhardt and the charges shocked me. I followed the trial in the Inquirer and on this blog - was sure of an acquittal, then shocked again.

    How many bags of heroin were found on Billy Doe? How did these charges go away?

    Now I know certain members of the Archdiocesan hierarchy made mistakes in moving priests around. And if laws were broken, they should be prosecuted. But Seth Williams has violated his oath as a lawyer and as a DA and most seriously as a Catholic by putting innocent men in jail. Ralph's articles show the DAs work on this case to be a farce. What about "Thou shall not bear false witness..." He should resign. Just because he missed his opportunity with Bevilacqua gives him no reason to persecute the innocent.

    Ralph, thank you for your dogged coverage. The Inquirer with their anti-Catholic agenda would dare to print any of it. The whole story needs to be told. And as we continue through the Lenten season, I wonder whether this is a modern "Stations of the Cross" lesson using three innocent men as instruments

    1. Why bust on Seth Williams ? He did not put Engelhardt, Lynn or Shero in prison. These men were always presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. There is nothing you can say that would prove they were treated otherwise. You have the thinking that since these individuals or the one you know is a priest, we should put them on a higher pedestal. The time is over for the victims to turn the other cheek, and because Williams maybe a Catholic he should not let that stand in his way. I commend him for treating these individuals as ordinary men and nothing more.

    2. They were not innocent until proven guilty. Look at your own comments and point of view to see that. They were never innocent in your eyes just because they were priests, in light of all the evidence, defense testimony, etc. It was a witch hunt.

    3. Sir, What I, Ralph or anyone else perceived these two individuals to be does not matter. It is nothing more than public opinion. Is there a chance what I or anyone else may say during the sentencing phase to the judge come into play ? Sure.

      These two men were accused of a crime. The Grand Jury heard evidence to bring charges. They were arrested, charged and released on bail.

      They had their trial, faced their accuser and by the evidence presented and by a jury of their peers were found GUILTY.

      The jury did not come back and say "we the jury still believe these individuals to be guilty", but we FIND these individuals to be guilty. The one thing they will be entiled to a couple of years down the line is their right to an appeal. But what appeal does any victim ever get. Where is my right or any other survivors right to a do over.

      You belong to a group of individuals who feel "how dare they arrest my priest." But guess what ? WE DARED AND OFF TO PRISON TWO MORE WILL BE GOING.

    4. Dennis - What involvement would you have in the sentencing phase? Who are you referring to when you say "WE DARED"? Yourself and Billy Doe?

    5. Once again, no one cares about you or other survivors when it comes to THIS CASE on THIS BLOG. It is obviously horrible and shameful what happened to real victims as you claim to be. No one, including me has defended any other priest here.

      Billy is NOT one of you. He is a liar. He is a fraud. He is a criminal who figured he could accuse a whole parish and somehow get a payday to make up for being a degenerate. The DA is looking at a resume builder so he can be the next mayor. The jury did not rule on the evidence or testimony. They ruled like a court of public opinion. Which you are a part of. I know because I was there in court. I heard it all. The only lies came from the prosecution. The defense witnesses told the story, NONE of this could have happened. Which means a ton when it is a he said, she said case. Look at your posts from the first day of this trial. They were guilty during opening statements according to your words. They never had a chance with you or the jury. They were either bias or someone got to them. Shame on them as innocent men are in prison and shame on you for putting Billy on a pedestal for all victims. You should be ashamed of yourself after reading all the facts of this case on this site and continue to say justice was served. It's a joke, SIR

    6. WE is me, any survivor, any citizen of Philadelphia,any individual across the world,and yes any catholic who is tired of the same BS over and over again.

      Now, please ask yourself this. With all the blogs posted how come 99.5% of Ralph's defense and who he mentions the most is Father Engelhardt ? Was there not another defendant by the name of Bernard Shero who was accused by Billy Doe for abuse ? Is he being thrown underneath the bus ? Is what Billy Doe testified to only a lie when talking about Engelhardt, but the truth when it comes to Shero ?

      ...and will Ralph now only post a blog regarding Bernard Shero after he reads this with only a month left before sentencing ?

      I am staying tuned to find out.

    7. @Chippy111 Once again you make that statement that no one cares about me or any other survivors. Sir, are you trying to hurt my feelings or make me cry ? Come at me at a different angle because that one does not work. You my friend are no different than I, I can admit that I may say these individuals are guilty because they wear that white collar, but you say they are innocent because they wear that white collar even after they have been found guilty in a court of law.

      Now you can say you or others don't care about survivors, but look around, you are wrong. Record setting awards to survivors, Abusers not going to prison for 1-10 years, but for decades, priests with no doubt they will die in prison for what they did.

      And if you don't see those, look in your own backyard. 12 jury members who did not let that white collar influence them. A DA a bunch of ADA and the most important our own family members.

      This case is on the back burner. I'm already looking into Father Andrew McCormick

    8. No one does care about you as it pertains to THIS case. Once again you spin like a record for your own satisfaction, leading the other readers in the exact opposite direction intended by my former statement. You chirp because you refuse to admit Billy is in it for all the wrong reasons, and that invalidates you as a victim. So you carry his torch.

      And where are these jury members in our own backyard? Why haven't they spoken out as to why, in light of the testimony, they chose their verdict? What do they have to hide if they are 100% confident they did these things? Read between the lines my friend. They are hiding out because they have something to hide.

      I don't say they are innocent because they wear a collar. I say they are innocent because the facts of the case say they are. I was an altar boy in Bucks County. These stories about doors being locked between masses don't happen. Especially between the two morning masses in a Northeast Philadelphia Church, where people are all over, some attending both masses every day.

      When teachers who create and run after school programs for 25-30 years, like the bell choir, say that 5th graders weren't in the crew because they were not strong enough I believe them because it is the truth. Then for a former student to come out and say he was in the club as a 5th grader as a major part of an abuse story, it is a lie. And his brother says his parents picked them up after every morning mass. yet he was abused for hours and hours. See where I am going with this. Lies...

      You waste everyone's time with your blatant disregard for the facts and testimony of THIS CASE. Wait until Ralph start reporting on that case you are so looking forward to, you'll be the only one commenting. A great injustice has happened here, that is why there are over a 100 comments per post.

    9. If what Ralph is saying and everything he would like you to believe is true. What other mainstream news media has picked up on what he is saying ? If this is such an important issue what he is saying regarding the DA's office, or jury tampering, why have I not seen it elsewhere ?

      Because, in my opinion if you like to hear it or not, is you have a reporter who years ago rocked the boat, i am not going to say if the way he was treated was right or wrong, but since he has been unable to return to mainstream media, he was capable of buying into an outlet for people to read. If you go to the very beginning of this blog you will take notice that we are the very same people back then as there is today, with the exception of a very few additional people joing for either side.

      I no longer come here to read what Ralph has to say, i come here to read comments from people like you, those damn ridiculous comments.

      So, yes a very big injustice has been done, and it did not happen in the court room or anything to do with this case.

      The only reason you get 100 posts is people have to do something when they get bored.

    10. Chippy, NOTHING invalidates a victim. Certainly not your saying such unbelievably arrogant nonsense.
      Dennis has no special "secret" knowledge as to why something unproven by you: "Billy's in it for all the wrong reasons"
      Which is a rather grandiose assumption on your part. Given a guilty verdict has been passed down.
      Why should Dennis need respond to any of your personal insults?
      You obviously have your ax to grind.
      And again so many unidentified posters.
      We could be in a room full of priests pedophiles or both.

    11. My ax to grind is that innocent men are in jail and convicted for crimes they did not commit. Every normal person on this blog looks at the facts of this case and sees to truth. Carefully sculpted lies by a career criminal.

      What facts have been presented that state that these things happened? All of Billy's testimony was discredited by the detective, the teachers, and nuns of the school who testified. His own family's documentation discredits his testimony. Am I missing something here?

    12. "Normal" jurors found these men guilty in a "Normal" court of law.

      12 "Normal" jurors reached a "Normal" verdict.


      And "Normally" that's enough for the "Normal" person.

      But like all fraudulent fights created to distract "Normal" people;
      "Normality" on this site is very "ab-normal".

      Clacks have their own sense of "Normal" It's has something to do with a future or present pay off.

      Now "Normally" I wouldn't think this way. I tend to trust that people are what they say they are.

      "Normally" that's how I behave. But there is nothing "normal" about any of this show and particularly Big Trial's "ab-normal" interest.

      Have i been "Normal" enough for you?

  23. Thank you Everyone, for sharing your information and your viewpoints. This is the most important news website for information on the Philadelphia trials. Thank you, Ralph, for your excellent and tireless work and coverage of the trials.

    We are entering into the most Holy Week of the year. We have a new Pope. I am feeling very hopeful about the future. If priests have been charged and incarcerated for crimes for they haven't committed, makes me think of Jesus. Let us pray for everyone who has been unjustly accused and arrested, may Lord have mercy on them and their accusers and may true justice prevail.

    1. When will sentencing take place for Englehardt & Shero. Was it postponed?

    2. Amen to that, Archie!


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