Monday, March 10, 2014

Nuns Pray While Judge Reads Sex Charges

By Ralph Cipriano

At 10:15 a.m. this morning in Courtroom 1102, Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright read the details of the sex crimes that Father Andrew McCormick is charged with.

The jury, beginning their second day of deliberations, had asked the judge for a read back on the charges.

Judge Bright began with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, which in this case allegedly involved oral sex with a minor. "The slightest degree of penetration is sufficient," the judge told the jury. "He does not have to emit any semen." It took the judge ten minutes to detail the elements of that crime and four other charges against the priest: sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault of a child, and corrupting the morals of a minor.

In the second row of the courtroom, four nuns in full habits weren't listening to the gory details. Instead, with rosary beads in hand, they were silently praying for "Father Andy."

"It's atrocious to have it associated with him," Sister Jacinta Miryam Hanley said of the sex crimes that Father Andy is accused of. The alleged victim in this case is a former 10-year-old altar boy who said that 17 years ago, Father Andy assaulted him in the rectory of St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg.

When the jury left the courtroom to deliberate, the nuns continued their prayer vigil outside in the hallway with Father Andy on the 11th floor of the Criminal Justice Center. The nuns, who were saying the rosary, were joined by other supporters of the priest. One nun read prayers aloud; others had their heads bowed and they chanted, "Pray for us."

Meanwhile, the alleged victim in the case, now 26, walked by the prayer group several times with his family. He looked straight ahead, and did not even glance at the nuns who were praying with the priest who had allegedly abused him.

Sister Jacinta Miryam Hanley is the provincial superior of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It's a Franciscan order based in Krakow.

Sister Jacinta is assigned to a convent in Cresson, Pa. It took her four and a half hours to drive in today to attend Father Andy's trial. Other nuns from the same order came from St. John Cantius, and Wilmington.

Sister Jacinta has known Father Andy for 17 years. She conceded Father Andy may look awkward at times but he's "just a genuine priest," she said. "He loves his priesthood, he loves God. He loves to share that with others."

"We pray that God will allow him to be vindicated," she said. "We pray that God will give him the strength to bear this cross."

The priest, she said, knows he's innocent. That's why he turned down a proposed plea deal with the district attorney's office that would have given him a minimal prison sentence. The priest, who has lost a lot of weight, has turned his fate over to God, the nun said. He knows that at any minute if the jury comes back with a guilty verdict, he'll be placed in handcuffs and hauled off to jail.

"Every day he hands his keys and his phone to his sister," Sister Jacinta said. The priest tells his sister if the sheriff's deputies take him into custody, "Let Mom and Dad know I love them."

The nun said that although she prays Father Andy is vindicated, she knows that there are many victims out there who have suffered the pain of sex abuse at the hands of priests. Father Andy, she said, also knows that as a member of the body of Christ, he may be called upon to share in the suffering of those victims.

Sister Jacinta insists Father Andy is a chaste individual who gets embarrassed easily. He frequently turned red at the subject matter discussed in Courtroom 1102.

"When he [Father Andy] finally heard what he was was accused of, he couldn't even repeat it to us," the nun recalled.

The nuns, however, aren't just praying for Father Andy. They're also praying for the alleged victim and his family.

"We don't doubt he probably was abused," the nun said. "We believe it was not Father Andy."

But she said, it's clear to her that the alleged victim is suffering, and so is his family.

"There's real pain there," she said.

In the courtroom, the alleged victim, rail thin, sat behind the prosecution table, flanked by his mother, father, and grandfather. The grandfather is a retired detective from the Philadelphia Police Department and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. He took the first statement from the alleged victim.

The grandfather is a veteran cop who made it clear to reporters in an extremely polite way that he doesn't have anything to say. He's just there to support his grandson. Of course, he hopes the truth will come out, and that his family will be healed. But he isn't there to make headlines.

Father Andy has the nuns in his corner. The alleged victim has two supporters who know all about the pain of sex abuse. They are two fathers who lost their sons after they were sexually abused by priests. And like the grandfather in this case, they're not going out of their way to talk to reporters.

One of those fathers, however, had tears in his eyes today as he talked about how he watched his wife cry after she looked at pictures of her son.

He can't even look at those pictures, the father said.

At 3:45 p.m. today, the jury called it quits without reaching a verdict.

"I think the jury's torn,"Sister Jacinta said.

The judge told the jurors they were dismissed for the day.

"Enjoy your evening," she said.

When the jury had left the building, the alleged victim's family and supporters were asked to leave the courtroom first. After they cleared out, Father Andy left with his supporters by a separate entrance.

The court crier warned courtroom spectators not to linger in the hallway.

Deliberations resume at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.


  1. The judge needed 10 minutes to outline the charges in terms Father Andy would be too embarrassed to outline. As if she was deriving some sort of pleasure in picturing Father Andy as if he did the act.

    In outlining the charges, she was drawing a picture for the jury to follow and that was to find Father Andy guilty of the charges. She was not able to draw a picture for the jury to see that Father Andy was innocent of the charges levied against him by the victim. Nor did she say that it was possible for Father Andy to be charged courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Legislature which changed the statute of limitations to permit adult children to file abuse charges against people said to have done them no matter how long ago it happened. The State Legislature never considered the possibility of fraudulent charges being filed against innocent people by adult turned children. Or that their actions in passing this type of legislation would lead to unscrupulous DA's seizing the initiative to charge people regardless of the quality of the evidence.

    Reading the Inky, they put a sanitized version of the charges read again to the jury. Perhaps this was for the children who read the news but people were left with the expression that the judge gave the jury a read on the law involved in prosecuting the priest.

    Whatever is happening in this jury is known only to God and to individual jurors who will spill the beans at some time in the future.

    Father Andy will sleep in the bed of his choosing one more night before judgment is rendered. If it is not guilty, the tears will flow freely. If guilty, handcuffs will be put on and he will be taken to jail.

    Only the victim knows what exactly happened between him and Father Andy and only he can corroborate that it actually happened. If he is truthful and admits the foibles of his irresponsible charges against Father Andy, he will be forgiven by the priest but not the people who support the Catholic Church and are deeply resentful of the conduct of ADA Seth Williams.

    The jury has an important task to do and it should do this well as they will be judged by their conduct while under jury duty. Only they can live with themselves with what has happened in the jury deliberations.

    But how can a jury resolve perjury by the victim in stating along with cooperating family members that Father Andy sexually assaulted him?

    Only God knows.


      James preparing in his mind and the small minds of others the corrupt judge scenario. Not a surprise though, we have already read the miscarriage of justice excuse if a jury of women find the defendant guilty He even goes as far as trying to give members of the jury a guilt complex stating "only they can live with themselves." Will the jury members only have to live by themselves if the verdict is guilty or will they have to live with themselves if the verdict is innocent ? In addition don't forget the Philadelphia Police Department conspiracy.

    2. I was an abuse child from a family member ..Forgiveforget and pray DivineMercyGodJesusItrustinyou chaplet save us rosary confession masses and each individual change your own 2000 everyone dr ect gave up nme but Gd did does not I was dying inside out s how do Ithink speak act what to Iwatch read see example and dress.. God sais how do I forgive you and forgate after confession masses and DivineMercySunday but what we all do is done to God First then true 10c0mmendmentsloveoftheneighbour never judge God is Judege and jury no one knows the whole life of each human being and soulpray for repentence conversion and first you chage . I went to my abuser no more then forgave and wrote to all I hurted first and forgive forget let God change heartmid soul the whole person....the person changed and started to pray to GodThefther GodTheSonGodJesusBodyBloodofChrist truepresence of god inthe Eucharist & cup of salvationno moe bread no more wine but God at consecrtion of the catholic mass in evry catholic tabernacle montrance! with mthermaryqeenofheaven Queenofpeaceimmaculteheart ourladyoffatimalourdes pray with her but pray meditate adore adorationbowing down reverence to true GodcreatorHolyTrinity alone GodJesysChrist with GodHolySpirit tio GodEternalFather above throne of heaven all. his human being never give up you do not know the miracles the second before God take the soul and rule from this life toeternaty then it is all belongs to God t d. this soul was all mix up evil lukewarm ect lke I was badand hurt God to. now this soul died and is inheaven for God took him home calling for GodDivineMercygodJesussaveus cry of the poor was heard! never give up pray and do true repntence nevr d the si gain change with God inthe queenofheavenmothrmary example fiat to God always abondonned all to God all he own all each ne each human being each soul life and eternal life time allof hell too.

  2. From a distance, this looks like a replay of the Engelhardt-Shero jury.

    This looks like a jury looking to justify guilty verdicts, which is the *opposite* of the way juries are supposed to deliberate.

    Historically, long deliberations are seen as good for the defense, but as we have seen in the past, all rules and regularities are thrown out the window when a Catholic priest in on trial.

    And yet again, the essential question must be asked: How does a man defend himself from charges of acts from so long ago?!?

    In this case, the accuser claimed that the priest wore blue boxers. The defense countered that he always wore "tighty whities" ... The accuser claimed the priest drank Dr. Pepper. The defense countered that Dr. Pepper was never supplied at the rectory ... The priest has no other accusers.

    Do not these rebuttals constitute "reasonable doubt"?
    **What else** can the defense possibly *do*?

    Again, watching this from a distance ... Things do not look good for Father Andy.
    But I hope I'm wrong.

  3. God, I hope you're right...

  4. Small correction Ralph:
    "Sister Jacinta is named after the youngest of the three girls from Fatima who saw the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje."

    Fatima is in Portugal, the site of a series of apparitions of Mary from May-Oct, 1917 to Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Lucia Santos.
    Medjugorje is in Bosnia, the site of alleged appearances by Mary to another set of children beginning in 1981. The two places aren't otherwise connected.

    1. Thank you Juniper. I am showing my ignorance here on matters of Catholic mysticism. The nun mentioned Medjugorje but not Fatima. When I see her again I'll have to ask more questions.

  5. What would have to happen would be a challenge filed in the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court to revoke the lengthened statute of limitations given to victims of child abuse. One cannot defend himself against charges so long ago and the more salacious the charge, the greater the chance of being found guilty especially if you can get your parents to parrot exactly what you said on the witness stand.

    At weddings, before starting the ritual, the priest, minister or rabbi will say that the man and woman are about to get married and issues this question to all in the audience to speak out if they have evidence to show they should be married or hold your tongue forever.

    Better an abuse claim be quickly investigated than secreted in victims for decades long. If thiks can happen to priests, then why has it not happened with greater frequency the propensity of teachers of both sexes getting involved romantically with young 17 year old kids? It seems that the most recent romances are caught and the teacher is prosecuted for such but we have not seen cases of sucyh that go back decades come up for prosecution.

    1. So the Catholic church is the that your argument? ..the star chamber as the defense attorney rightly referred to it...consistentley and systematically hid and shielded their own. Your teacher/ student "example" is of no value.where are your facts to show that cases are not being prosecuted where the date of the allegations is "old"? Or is it just you have no real facts to back up that statement as true. This priest is on trial BC he's been accused of a crime.whether he is found guilty or not guilty....its up to those people sitting in that box in that courtroom. Also ask yourself why you see teachers and the like getting " caught" as opposed to decades ago. Did it not go on before? What's generally the common thread in those types of cases?.....its easy to figure out

    2. I stick by it and I do not do so lightly without analyzing facts. We do prosecute teachers for having affairs with students and that is because of media technology in the hands of people which can spread things around the school fast. Evidence can be gathered from media technology. About decades past, we didn't have media technology in our hands and it was easier to keep gossip from spreading. Yes, it may well have happened between teacher and student years ago - a budding roamnce that turned into a steamy affair but lips between participants kept it secret. Then, schools handled it quietly - let the teacher resign after the school year was over. Or those things ended in their peculair ways with both parties going their separate paths like romances do. Today, you cannot do such a thing.

      The Catholic Church is the one being put on trial here in Philadelphia, not the priest accused. A good jury would take the facts, discuss them and then come up with a verdict. This is getting pretty long and there may either be a split for acquittal or conviction with nobody in agreement which translates into a hung jury. The evidence used against Father Andy is circumstantial and those cases are difficult to try.

  6. This priest unwisely became too familiar with kids in his parish. Those days are gone, and priests need to avoid any situation that could lead to a false accusation.
    That said, he is clearly innocent of the ridiculous charges against him. But once again it is not an individual priest who is on trial, it is not the facts and hard evidence that are being evaluated. It is the Church that it is on trial. The Church of the 1970s. The trial is a disgrace. But it is only a microcosm of the putrid "justice" system of Philadelphia.

  7. Hi Ralph - excellent job of unbiased reporting (as usual).

    I was wondering if Judge Bright ever took the time to explain the concept of 'guilty beyond a reasonable doubt' to the jury In the interest of genuine justice, this would seem to be the appropriate thing to do for a judge who - in theory, at least - is not supposed to care which side 'wins'.

    Your thoughts?

  8. Are we sure there is no history of family abuse?

  9. Hey (fellow) anonymous.

    Good question. How about a police / medical records? We all knew about this stuff during the 'Billy' trial, but apparently not in this case. Perhaps once the verdict (verdict = to speak the truth) comes in, we'll know more.

  10. Individuals and families with dark issues in their pasts usually engage in a combination of denial and projection. With regard to the latter, by projecting their issues/failings/trauma onto a third party they seek emotional and psychological escape from their inner torment.
    The second scenario is the obvious one of self enrichment at the expense of somebody else (or another organization). "Resurfacing" memories used to be the modus operandi of quack therapists in cohoots with bent detectives and corrupt attorneys. Eventually nobody could keep a straight face in court, so that gambit has given way to a more naive appeal to false emotions and crocodile tears.
    The Church - and so individual priests - finds itself in the crosshairs of both scams, thanks to miscarriages of justice across the country - but particularly in the kangaroo courts of PhilaCessPitDelphia.

  11. You people are sickos who have nothing to do all day but lay bs on the internet...You don't even know the family or the facts......SICKOS

    1. Have any information you would like to share?

    2. Fact that this 26 year old man is lying?

    3. Fact is that some of the jury know the priest is lying.

    4. Fact is that a 10 year old boy trusted the wrong priest.

  12. There is no dark past here. It takes courage for the alleged victim to come forward. It states that the victim is not looking for monetary retribution. You should be ashamed of yourselves. These priests target specific youths- vulnerable, from broken homes, etc. Not every child is a target. Shame on you for defending the accused!

  13. "The slightest degree of penetration is sufficient". You can almost sense the Not-so-Bright Judgette trying to browbeat the non-plussed jury into submission. Convict him, you morons!
    How about "The slightest degree of doubt is sufficient"? Yeah, there's a lot of doubt here. The jury is clearly torn between what Judgette is haranguing them to do (find an innocent man guilty) and the completely vacuous charges against him.
    It's not there. It's just not there.

    1. anonymous @10:05.

      I agree with your assessment about the Bright's behavior. Does anyone else cringe when these judges are addressed as 'honorable'?

    2. _______________________________


  15. I know some of the people who come on about the mob bussiness get carried away with there hatred and name calling but to punish every one isnt right either there is interest in the local mob stories no matter how sick some of the stories are maybe theres a way to screen those who continue to rant about mazzuca or call someone wife names or say un truths by blocking there web id# if possible so we can go back to covering scarfo trial and those ahead.

  16. Has the grande kid who is said to be nicodemos accomplice been picked up yet and if so is he cooperating or keeping his mouth shut like nicodemo


  18. I posted JB but it came up anonymous boys 1up ^^

    1. Welcome back boys nicodemo trial should start any day if he.s not talking


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