Monday, June 24, 2013

Judge Denies Appeal Of "Excessive and Unreasonable" Sentences

By Ralph Cipriano

On June 20, defense lawyers for Father Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero filed motions to appeal Judge Ellen Ceisler's "excessive and unreasonable" sentences.

On June 21, Judge Ceisler denied both motions. The defense can now appeal the judge's decisions to Superior Court.

The court documents, however, lay out for the first time the details on how brutally the judge clobbered the defendants.

Let's start with Engelhardt.

The jury convicted Engelhardt on three charges: endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault, and corrupting the morals of a minor. The jury convicted the priest of a fourth charge, conspiracy, but the judge said the jury made a mistake on that one, and she tossed the conspiracy charge as unproven.

According to the defense motion, the applicable sentencing guideline range for a defendant with no criminal record for endangering the welfare of a child was 3 to 12 months plus or minus 6 months. The judge sentenced Engelhardt to 3 1/2 to 7 years.

For indecent assault, the sentencing guideline range for Engelhardt was probation to 9 months, plus or minus three months. The judge sentenced Engelhardt to 2 1/2 to 5 years.

For corrupting the morals of a minor, the sentencing guideline for the priest was probation to 9 months, plus or minus three months. The judge sentenced the defendant to 5 years probation.

The sentences were to be served consecutively.

Engelhardt could have walked out of Judge Ceisler's court with a sentence of probation on all three charges. Instead, the judge gave Engelhardt 6 to 12 years, plus five years probation. According to the motion filed by defense lawyer Michael J. McGovern, the judge's sentence "far exceeded the aggravated range of the applicable sentencing guidelines, and was, in fact, the maximum permissible sentence for those offenses."

When she sentenced Engelhardt, Judge Ceisler said the sentencing guidelines applicable in the case "shocked her conscience." The judge disregarded the sentencing guidelines because of the circumstance of the case, which is why she considered sentences "in the aggravated range," according to the defense motion.

The jury convicted Shero on five charges: rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault.

The applicable sentencing guideline regarding rape of a child for a defendant with no criminal history was 48 to 66 months, plus or minus 12 months, according to the defense motion filed by Burton A. Rose.

The "extreme upper level of the aggravated range would have been 78 months imprisonment," the defense motion says. Instead, the judge gave Shero 8 to 16 years, or a minimum sentence of 96 months, "which substantially exceeded the aggravated range of the applicable sentencing guideline for this offense," the defense motion said.

"In announcing its reasons for sentencing, the Court stated that the standard range of the sentencing guideline for this offense was not adequate because of the circumstances of this case and that a sentence would have to be considered in the aggravated range," the defense motion said. "Nevertheless, the Court proceeded to impose a sentence outside the entire sentencing guideline range."

After they were sentenced, Engelhardt and Shero spent a week in solitary confinement at Graterford prison. The two inmates were then shipped to the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill, located in Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County. At Camp Hill, the prisoners will be classified and shipped to another prison to serve out their sentences.

When she sentenced the defendants, the judge approved a defense request to have Engelhardt and Shero serve their time at SCI Laurel Highlands, in Somerset, PA.


  1. How many of these institutions has billy doe spent time in over the last 6-7 years?

    Mr. and mrs. Doe - you have raised a fine, upstanding young man. You should be proud of what he has taken away from these two individuals.

  2. Ralph - has it been confirmed that judge ceisler will be running the grand jury for the building collapse in Philadelphia?

  3. Ralph, let me answer that question based on the fact Judge Ceisler has been establishing guidelines in her courtroom for the "civil attorney's" handling the cases on behalf of the injured and deceased individuals in this horrid building collapse. One must assume she has control of that case and will most likely preside over the "grand jury" when it investigates this situation. Let's hope the DA's office doesn't come into court 3 or 4 years from now with an explanation that it took 11 months, 21 days to interview the survivors in this building collapse, that is what the prosecution would like you to believe in the case of Billy Doe, that an entire year went by with no investigation because Billy Doe's actual first name was mispelled on the letter of notification of the five hour assault by the archdiocesan attorney.

    Perhaps it's no coincidence that this same judge was assigned the building collapse case a mere week before those sentences had to be handed down to these 2 innocent men.

  4. Thank you, as always, Ralph, for keeping us informed! Thanks for staying on the case!

  5. Please explain what circumstances prompted these sentences. Was it the multiple stories of Billy Doe concerning the alleged assaults. Was it the testimony of several teachers that those assaults in the church sacristy after an early morning mass just couldn't have occurred. Was it the accusers own brother who gave a statement to the DA that those assaults did not occur as described by his own brother. abd those are just a few of the mountain of evidence presented at trial that should have resulted in an acquittal.

    The only circumstances relevant were those 2 defendants had a connection to the archdiocese of philadelphia and they had to be punished severely for the neglectful attitude decades ago by the archdiocese when there "actually was credible evidence" that abuse had probably occurred. But there was no credible evidence in this case, just the word of a known thief and drug addict.

  6. Besides contacting journalists and politicians to alert them to this miscarriage of justice and Ralph's great work in exposing it, I think we should also be writing to these innocent men to remind them that there are plenty of us who see this disgrace for what it is, and will not walk away until justice is done and they walk free (and hopefully the criminal liar and those who contributed to this travesty are called to justice - preferably somewhere far from Philthadelphia).

  7. A first year law student would have grave doubts of the evidence against the defendants and the jury's decision to convict regardless of Billy DOe's conflicting multiple fallacies of abuse stories. Having said this, probation would have been a serious option for both defendants. Or even a short prison term of one year in which the defendats would be relased on good behavior after 9 months which would have obviated the effects of an appeazl when the defendants are freed from prison and then cleared by aSuperior court of the alleged misdeeds.

    Instead Ceisler played the role of a huffing and puffing bull on the judge's bench by giving substantial prison sentences to both defendants. Shining her brass nameplate, I would say by saying to all I sent two perverts to prison.

    Worse will come when Superior Court vacates the sentences imposed and restores the reputations of both defendants. Who will then pay the Archdiocese for false accusation and defamation of character if Lynn and Avery are freed by Superior Court? Will Chaput make a shallow speech of forgiving those who sinned against innocent priests and teacher in jail or will he file suit against the City of Philadelphia to recoup monies spent defending the church against false charges?

    Most likely, Chaput will say nothing like a humble priest and take the financial losses with him and then start a new financial campaign to reivigorate the Archdiocese and its missions. Yes, they will need the money as they have a long list of capital improvements urgently needed at many of its churches and school facilities.

  8. It's about time pedophiles were sentenced to hard time. Engelhardt wanted to do his time working in a retirement home for old priests. What? That's laughable. Good job judge! Some people keep repeating how bad Billy is. We've heard that so many times. You don't like verdict; then lets get on with the appeal. I'm betting that these creepy pedophiles are going to remain right where the judge has put them.

  9. It is NOT nice to molest children.
    Go read both of the Grand Jury Reports.
    Does somebody have to explain it to you ?

  10. Did the two [2] testify in their defense ?


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