Monday, March 16, 2015

The Legal Battle Over Billy Doe's "Best Guy Friend"

Best guy pals Billy [left] and Leo
By Ralph Cipriano

When he last tracked Leo Omar Hernandez, Billy Doe's "best guy friend" had been ordered by a Common Pleas Court judge to testify at a deposition in the former altar boy's civil suit against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Judge Jacqueline F. Allen issued that order on Feb. 9th. The next day, Hernandez's lawyer filed a motion  seeking to quash the subpoena and grant an order of protection for Hernandez. That prompted Judge Allen on March 9th to vacate her previous order and schedule a hearing on Hernandez's new motion.

In his motion seeking a protective order, Francis Malofiy, the lawyer for Leo Omar Hernandez, alleged that his client was the victim of a conspiracy. Malofiy charged that Michael J. McGovern, attorney for the late Father Charles Engelhardt, was "viciously and publicly . . . defaming" Leo Hernandez on this blog, as well as "conspiring to obtain Hernandez's confidential medical, psychiatric and personnel records."

If Hernandez was ordered to give a deposition, it would "cause him further annoyance, harassment, embarrassment and humiliation," Malofiy argued. Furthermore, Malofiy charged that McGovern's conduct was "tantamount to blatant witness intimidation."

In a response filed March 12 by Thomas R. Hurd, McGovern's law partner, dismissed Malofiy's claims as a "litany of vitriol" spewing charges that were "wholly unwarranted and unfounded."

Meanwhile, Nicholas M. Centrella, the attorney for the archdiocese, has weighed in. Because Hernandez was the only witness that Billy Doe told his story to, Centrella argued in a response filed March 12, Hernandez possesses "truly unique information."  Therefore, the archdiocese should have the right to depose Hernandez in a civil deposition to "explore his credibility," Centrella wrote.

UPDATE: On March 12, Judge Allen entered a one-sentence order denying Hernandez's motion to quash the subpoena and grant a protective order; a decision posted on the court docket on March 17th.

Billy Doe is a grand jury's pseudonym for the former altar boy who claimed that he was raped by two priests and a Catholic school teacher when he was 10 and 11 years old. Doe was the district attorney's star witness in two sex abuse trials; his allegations put three priests and a former school teacher in jail.

On the eve of the first trial, former priest Edward V. Avery, pleaded guilty on March 22, 2012 to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and conspiring with Msgr. William J. Lynn to endanger the welfare of a child.

[Avery, 69, facing a sentence of 13 1/2 to 27 years, instead got 2 1/2 to 5 years. At the second trial, Avery, called as a prosecution witness, recanted on the witness stand. He claimed he didn't even know Billy Doe, but took the plea bargain because he didn't want to die in jail.]

At the first trial, Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary for clergy, was convicted by a jury on of one count of endangering the welfare of a child. The Philadelphia monsignor became the first Catholic administrator in the country to go to jail for clerical sex abuse. Lynn never touched anybody; his crime was failing to adequately supervise Avery.

Since Lynn never met Billy Doe, the monsignor's lawyers decided not to challenge the former altar boy's credibility.

[On Dec. 26, 2013, the state Superior Court reversed Lynn's conviction].

At the second trial, lawyers for Father Charles Engelhardt and former Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero did challenge Doe's credibility. Enter Leo Omar Hernandez, the only prosecution witness who could corroborate any part of Doe's improbable tale of multiple rapes.

Hernandez was supposedly the "best guy friend" that Billy Doe first told his story of abuse 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.

On March 28, 2013, two months after he testified in the Billy Doe case, Leo Hernandez filed a civil complaint in Common Pleas Court against a Philadelphia osteopath. In his suit, Hernandez claimed in court records that the male doctor got him hooked on drugs and then had an abusive sexual relationship with him.

Records gathered for the medical malpractice case say that Leo Omar Hernandez was a former drug addict, steroid abuser, and dancer in gay male strip clubs. According to a deposition Hernandez gave on May 22, 2014, Hernandez stated that he lived alone and was discharged early from the Air Force because of what he described as a "failure to adapt."

After Big Trial recounted the glaring contradictions in Hernandez's legal stances, Malofiy, in his motion denounced a "virulent blog post attacking Mr. Hernandez due to his role as a witness for the prosecution in the criminal trial."

In that blog post, Malofiy argued, McGovern defamed Hernandez by "baselessly claiming that Mr. Hernandez is a liar, a perjurer" who was "actively conspiring" with Billy Doe to "defraud the court system."

Malofiy asked for a seal on the case. He also wrote that McGovern's law firm, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP, should "withdraw from case or be disqualified" because McGovern allegedly leaked sealed documents regarding Hernandez.

McGovern has "engaged in highly unethical and defamatory attacks on Mer. Hernandez that make it certain that the taking of this deposition will subject Mr. Hernandez to unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, burden or expense," Malofiy wrote.

In response, Hurd of the McElroy firm argued that Hernandez has "done nothing but submit a litany of vitriol instead of providing any factual support that would come close to substantiating any of these highly incredible claims."

In his response, Hurd wrote that it was "denied that Michael McGovern . . . has engaged in any unethical or defamatory attacks on Hernandez. It was also denied that McGovern "conspired to illegally obtain records," Hurd wrote. "Hernandez cites no evidence in support of this contention."

Hernandez voluntarily waived his right to confidentially when he filed his civil suit, Hurd wrote. The filing of the civil suit waives Hernandez's "right to confidentiality of matters placed directly at issue" in the lawsuit. Hernandez, Hurd wrote, "attached various records as publicly available exhibits to his complaint."

Hurd, who represents the late Father Engelhardt in Billy Doe's civil suit, wrote that Hernandez's deposition "is material and necessary to obtain relevant information needed for Engelhardt to craft a proper defense."

"Creative and colorful language and creative font choice aside, Hernandez's motion completely lacks merit and should be denied in its entirety," Hurd wrote in an accompanying memorandum of law. "Hernandez has not provided a scintilla of evidence indicating that appearing for a deposition would impose an undue or unreasonable burden."

In his response, Centrella, the defense lawyer for the archdiocese, argues that Hernandez should have to appear at 10 a.m. on March 23 for his previously scheduled deposition at Conrad O'Brien P.C.

Herenandez is a "witness with highly relevant information," Centrella argued. And Hernandez doesn't have to worry about the contents of his deposition being publicized, Centrella wrote.

That's because all the parties in Billy Doe's civil case against the archdiocese have entered into a "confidentiality agreement which should alleviate Hernandez's alleged concern that his deposition testimony will be disseminated outside of this litigation," Centrella wrote.

In his response, Centrella argued that the archdiocese has a right to depose Hernandez because he's  going to be a witness for Billy Doe in the civil case, scheduled to go to trial on Aug. 3rd.

In Billy Doe's answers to interrogatories, Billy Doe's lawyers have identified Hernandez as a "fact witness, Centrella wrote. "Upon information and belief, plaintiff intends to call Hernandez as a witness at this civil trial."

"Hernandez is a witness with highly eleveant information who the archdiocese is entitled to depose pursuant to the Pennsyvlania rules of civil procedure," Centrella wrote. "At the criminal trial of Engelahrdt and Shero, Hernandez corroborated plaintiff's account of abuse, thereby bolstering plaintiff's credibility."

Engelhardt died in prison last November; Shero remains in prison pending appeal. Both Engelhardt and Shero are among the parties Billy Doe has sued for damages in his civil suit. Besides the archdiocese, Billy Doe has also sued the estate of the late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua.

"The archdiocese has the right to depose Hernandez concerning the allegations in plaintiff's complaint and explore Hernandez's credibility as a witness," Centrella wrote. "Upon information and belief, Plaintiff intends to heavily rely on Hernandez as a trial witness in this civil action in order to recreate the corroboration of the alleged abuse that was elicited during the underlying criminal trial."

"Indeed, Hernandez possess truly unique information as he is purportedly the only person that plaintiff ever told about the alleged abuse," Centrella wrote.

"Moreover, Hernandez's medical malpractice lawsuit is potentially relevant to the underlying criminal trial, and thus, this action," Centrella wrote. The "facts that give rise to the medical malpractice action occurred at the same time (April 2011 to March 2013) that . . . Hernandez and [Billy Doe] had a purported chance rendezvous at Hammerhead's bar in 2012," Centrella wrote.

"While the archdiocese is uninterested in the ultimate outcome of Hernandez's civil action it is entitled to discover any facts from that action which overlap and/or are commonly relate to [Billy Doe's] cause of action," Centrella wrote.

At the Engelhardt-Shero trial, Hernandez testified that he became a witness in the criminal case after a chance encounter with his old pal.

"I went to a bar after work, Hammerheads, Cottman and Frankford," Hernandez testified. "And I'm walking in and he is walking out. And we just see each other and what not and just yell and hug because it had been so long. And that was about when we first got back together."

On the witness stand in the criminal case, Hernandez told the jury he didn't have any idea that Billy was headed to trial. But Billy told him, "Oh, I'm going to court soon." He didn't say anything else about the case, Hernandez claimed to the jury.


  1. Leo had done enough damage to his own reputation to cause embarrassment to him and his family. What a great role model he is to his son - become a stripper to get a sugar daddy, get discharged from the military and sue everyone because you are owed it and do now want to go out and earn a living.

  2. Does anybody know the monetary damages Billy Doe and his attorneys are asking for ?

  3. If both Hernandez and Billy Doe do not get deposed, civil case will collapse on its merits. We are awaiting Supreme Court decision on Lynn appeal which could come any time this month.

  4. Just switch out the liberal (SP leftists) Philly DA for any 'right-wing' conservative DA, and then switch out the Gallagher-Hernandez duo for a couple of skin-heads, then give the defendants names like Jamil Washington, Muhammad Ahmed, Barak Osana- all admitted radicalized black Muslims- and let's try to guess how the media might cover this story- and how the current political powerbase might react;

    Nightly riots in the streets, and daily brow-beating with the media calling "white Christian America" bigoted, and the current Administration sending their DOJ attack dog to investigate, disassemble and sensitivity reeducate, anyone?

    How's this for a chant in support of our persecuted priests: "Knees Down, Don't Persecute"

  5. what an interesting piece about another prolific liar and con artist cut in the exact same mold as danny Gallagher....he neglected to respond to his subpoena back in the civil trial in December while at the same time trying to inject himself into the Superior Court appeal currently being debated by those 3 judges on the legitimacy of the Shero/Engelhardt appeals to overturn that original verdict.....and he's still hiding now under the disguise that he's now in harm's way...just another punk lying drug addict, whose infamous "chance meeting" with Danny Gallagher at Hammerhead's bar resulted in his perjured testimony at the Engelhardt/Shero trial......he's not a honorably discharged Air Force veteran as he testified but an 18 month washout discharged because he "couldn't adapt: short for he couldn't cut it in the military
    , he's not a doting father of a young child living with his girlfriend in Mayfair as he testified but a male strip club dancing drug addict who now blames a doctor that treated him medically for hooking him on prescription drugs etc etc etc ......

    Time will tell if the superior court has the good sense to rule favorably in Shero and Engelhardt's favor on their appeal and time will tell whether the civil court Judge will be able to pry Leo Omar Hernandez from under the rock he is hiding best to these civil attorney's seeking to flush this loser out........

    1. All they have to do is kill the appeal if both guys cannot be found to be deposed as that is it. No civil trial and no damages paid with the exception of fees paid to the law firms to defend the Archdiocese. The McCormick case has sunk under its weight as it is very unlikely a third trial will be held. Very unlikely anmy other church abuse cases are around as of now.

  6. Two little queer guys for when all is said and done will end up in jail pased around like the little bitch.s they are and the accusations of the priests violating them will all come true only the guys doing it won.t hsve a collar they might be wearing one for being somebodys pet buy the guys having there wsy with them will be guards and guys in a jump suit Lol


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