Friday, February 13, 2015

Judge Orders Leo Omar Hernandez To Be Deposed

Best Guy Pals Billy and Leo
By Ralph Cipriano

A Common Pleas Court judge has ordered Leo Omar Hernandez to give a deposition in the civil case of his former "best guy friend" Billy Doe.

Hernandez originally received a subpoena to appear as a witness on Dec. 12th, but to date has not shown.

On Wednesday, according to the docket in the case, Judge Jacqueline F. Allen granted a motion by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to order Hernandez to appear within 30 days.

"It is further ordered that Mr. Hernandez shall comply with the subpoena for his videotaped deposition at  the law offices of Conrad O'Brien PC, 2500 Market Street," the docket noted. Hernandez was ordered to bring along all documents "responsive to the subpoena," the docket said. "Failure to comply with this order may result in sanctions imposed by the court."

If he shows, Hernandez will join a roster of reluctant witnesses who have already been deposed in the civil case, including Bishop Edward P. Cullen, Msgr. William J. Lynn, and Bishop Joseph R. Cistone.

Hernandez was supposedly the "best guy friend" that Billy Doe first told his improbable tale of multiple rapes to back when they were high school classmates at the International Christian Academy in Northeast Philadelphia.

When he appeared as a witness on Jan. 15, 2013, Hernandez presented himself to a criminal jury as a clean-cut, straight-arrow, honorably-discharged anti-drug, anti-gay Air Force vet living with his girlfriend and newborn son at a house he owned in Mayfair.

Hernandez was the only prosecution witness who could corroborate any details from Billy's wild stories of being raped as an altar boy by two priests and a Catholic school teacher.

In the civil case, Billy Doe is suing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for monetary damages in exchange for his alleged suffering. Meanwhile, his former "best guy friend" Hernandez has filed a medical malpractice case filed in the same Common Pleas Court against a Philadelphia osteopath, a male doctor that Hernandez claims got him hooked on drugs and then had an abusive sexual relationship with him.

Records gathered for the medical malpractice case paint a totally different picture of Leo Omar Hernandez as a former drug addict, steroid abuser, and dancer in gay male strip clubs.

The contradictions would appear to be the subject of Hernandez's deposition in the civil case. According to court records, Hernandez originally had a subpoena to appear on Dec. 12th.

Prior to the deposition, Hernandez's lawyer, Francis Malofiy, contacted the archdiocese's lawyers and said Hernandez was unavailable, court records say. The archdiocese agreed to postpone the deposition.

On Jan. 21, the archdiocese sent a letter to Malofiy attempting to "amicably resolve this matter and schedule Hernandez's deposition," the archdiocese's lawyers wrote in a motion filed Jan. 28th. "Attorney Malofiy has failed to respond to the archdiocese's Jan. 21, 2015 correspondence."

To date, Hernandez's lawyer "has not objected or moved for a protective order," the archdiocese's lawyers wrote.

"Hernandez has highly relevant information concerning the allegations in plaintiff's complaint," wrote  lawyers James J. Rohn, Nicholas M. Centrella and Frank R. Emmerich Jr. "Failure to comply with subpoena has prejudiced and will continue to prejudice the Archdiocese in its ability to prepare its claims and defenses in this action."

In addition, the archdiocese lawyers noted, the Feb. 2 deadline for discovery is rapidly approaching. In another motion, the archdiocese sought to extend the discovery deadline by 30 days.

The projected trial date in the civil case is Aug. 3rd.

There's a blanket of secrecy over the civil case because both sides have agreed to a voluntary confidentiality stipulation. So the only official news is what gets posted on the docket and whatever motions are filed.

According to court records in the case, the plaintiff's lawyers have been very active. Retired Bishop of Allentown Edward P. Cullen, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former vicar for administration in 1993-94, was deposed for two days.

Msgr. William J. Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, was deposed for three days.

Lynn was convicted on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Billy, in 2012, but that conviction was overturned by the state Superior Court. Lynn remains under house arrest while the state Supreme Court, at the request of District Attorney R. Seth Williams, reviews the case.

Also deposed was the Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, Joseph R. Cistone, the Philadelphia archdiocese's former vicar for administration from 1998 to 2009.

In addition, the plaintiff's lawyers deposed the defendants in the criminal case while in jail, including the late Father Charles Engelhardt, former priest Edward V. Avery, and former school teacher Bernard Shero.

Engelhardt, who died on Nov. 15th while in jail, was deposed twice in the civil case, according to court records. Despite his death, his lawyers have vowed to continue their appeal of Engelhardt's criminal conviction, to clear his name.

Judge Allen's decision to order Hernandez's deposition wasn't her only action this week. Also on Wednesday, according to the docket, Judge Allen granted a motion from Engelhardt's attorneys to compel discovery in the case.

The judge ordered the plaintiff's lawyers to provide executed authorizations required for the release of Billy Doe's medical records from 10 different doctors or doctors' groups, three hospitals and three drug rehabs. In addition, the judge ordered the plaintiff to produce his IRS records, as well as respond to two sets of interrogatories from Engelhardt's lawyers.

The judge gave the plaintiff seven days to comply with her Feb. 9th order. If not, according to the docket, appropriate sanctions may include "preclusion of evidence in support of plaintiff's claims or dismissal may be imposed . . . for failure to comply with this order."