Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Deer In The Headlights

By Ralph Cipriano

Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright asked Father Andrew McCormick if he was making his decision not to testify in his own defense of his own free will.

"I am," the 59-year-old priest said.

It was the only time "Father Andy" has spoken in the courtroom since he pleaded not guilty to five sex abuse charges.

The jury did not hear Father Andy's brief answers; they were in the back room on a break. And when it comes time to decide the priest's fate, the jury of 10 women and two men will have to try and reach a verdict without ever hearing a word from the defendant other than his repeated plea of "Not Guilty."

Defense lawyer Trevan Borum told the judge that the decision for the defendant to not take the witness stand was "based on the Commonwealth's evidence," or presumably lack thereof. There is no physical evidence in the case, only the words of the alleged victim about an incident that supposedly happened behind closed doors of a church rectory 18 years ago.

But another factor in Borum's decision had to be Father Andy's disastrous performance on the witness stand a year ago during his first trial. William J. Brennan, Father Andy's previous defense lawyer, conceded to that jury in his closing that Father Andy was "a bit of an awkward guy" who turned "beet red" on the witness stand and generally looked like "a deer in the headlights."

In Father Andy the sequel, the deer in the headlights has been written out of the script.

The rest of the defense's case, which began with the testimony of a former altar boy on Tuesday, was over in a few hours today.

The evidence presented today included three more former altar boys and a former female member of the Children of Mary who basically testified that Father Andy didn't molest me.

Also, a former church maintenance man told the jury that all the priests at St. John Cantius Church, including Father Andy, wore tighty-whities. And not the blue plaid boxer shorts that the alleged victim recalled seeing under Father Andy's black cassock.

The first defense witness of the day was Derrick Raguza, a 45-year-old fundraiser for a religious shrine who's a former altar boy at St. John's. Raguza testified that he went with Father Andy on a trip to Poland.

In Poland, Father Andy took the altar boy to see some churches and the former concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Raguza testified that in Poland he shared a room with Father Andy and the most disturbing thing that happened was, "Father snores."

When he became a high school student, Raguza testified, he came back to St. John's to ask Father Andy to help tutor him in Latin.

Robert Gumola was another 45-year-old altar boy who testified that Father Andy took him and five other altar boys on a ski trip to the Poconos.

Yes, the witness said, he'd been up to Father Andy's room in the rectory but it was only to "help him carry furniture."

Michalina Goral, 31, told the jury about the Children of Mary, the female counterpart to altar boys back in the 1990s at St. John Cantius, in the days before girls were allowed to become altar servers.

Besides supervising the altar boys, Father Andy was in charge of the Children of Mary, Goral testified. She brought along a scrapbook of old photos that showed Father Andy with his arm around Goral's sister at her first Holy Communion. And Father Andy taking the altar boys and the Children of Mary girls on a trip to Great Adventure.

Goral told the jury she went along with Father Andy and the Children of Mary to visit elderly parishioners at nursing homes. Under Father Andy's direction, Goral testified, the Children of Mary cleaned the church, had pizza parties, and marched in processionals.

The photos were from 1997, 1998 and 1999, around the time the alleged victim in the case was an altar boy at St. John Cantius. The alleged victim claims that one night after Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation in 1997 the priest lured the 10-year-old altar boy up to his room in the rectory and then attempted to stick his penis in the boy's mouth.

Coral worked as a volunteer at the rectory during the late 1990s. She testified that Father Andy was always receiving visitors there including parents and returning altar boys who were high school students.

"Father Andy was very social and very outgoing," Goral told the jury.

On cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp pointed out that Father Andy looked about 30 pounds heavier in the pictures and that "a lot of that appears to be in his belly."

Goral agreed with the D.A.'s observations.

The next witness was Mark Pasternak, 56, a former longtime church maintenance worker at St. John Cantius.

Pasternak testified that while working at the church he noticed the lady who did the priest's laundry stacking clothes on top of a table in the church basement.

"I saw piles of clothes with priests' names on it," Pasternak testified.

And all the priests' underwear was white, Borum asked.

Yes, Pasternak said.

See any blue plaid boxer shorts, Borum asked.

"That's not what I saw," Pasternak told the jury.

On cross-examination, Pasternak conceded that he was a close friend of Father Andy's.

But he's more than that. Pasternak knows a thing or two about sending a priest to jail. He was one of 12 jurors who convicted Msgr. William J. Lynn on June 22, 2012 of one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

There's a gag order up so Pasternak didn't want to talk to the media today. But last year, at Father Andy's first trial, he had plenty to say.

"I saw the monsters," Pasternak told reporters last year about hearing 13 weeks of hearing testimony at the Lynn trial about the worst sexually abusive priests in the history of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. "I saw what they did."

But Pasternak's take last year that Father Andy wasn't one of them.

As the church's full-time maintenance man, Pasternak was at St. John Cantius every day for 12 years. His son was an altar boy under Father Andy's care. His daughter, a classmate of the alleged victim in this case, was a member of the Children of Mary. Pasternak saw Father Andy interact with lots of boys, including his son and daughter, and their friends.

"It's not there," Pasternak told reporters last year about the evidence against Father Andy. There's "no way" the priest is an abuser, he said.

In court today, Michael O'Brien, 38, an EMT in the Philadelphia Fire Department, told the jury that when he was an altar boy he wanted to be a bishop. Because of his interest in the priesthood, O'Brien said, Father Andy, O'Brien took a special interest in him. O'Brien took two trips to Poland with Father Andy and saw the sights.

O'Brien, who worked the night before, had gone all day without sleep to testify on Father Andy's behalf.

Depending on the weather, the trial was scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow with closing statements from the defense lawyer and the prosecutor. The judge will charge the jury, and after that, the case will go to the jury.


  1. Imagine... a "man of God" who refuses to take the witness stand, swear on the Bible, and tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A "man of God" who has so little faith in his God that he dare not take the witness stand, tell the truth, and let the chips fall where they may, secure in the knowledge that he did the right thing and told the truth. A "man of god" who will not stand up, look his accuser in the eyes and say "...I did NOT commit these terrible deeds!" Instead of standing tall with his God and his "church" behind him, and shouting out his innocence for the entire world to hear, he cowers behind his lawyers and remains silent. Deer caught in the headlights? More like a common criminal than a "man of God." So much for the ethical and high moral standards that some still claim these "men of God" possess. What a sad and telling spectacle!

    1. No one has to testify in his or her defense if they want to take a pass on doing so. There are good reasons for the priest to do so as why help them convict him? Reasonable doubt already imparted to jurors. I have no access to the thinking of jurors as I am not on the jury. What happened will happen once the jury sits down to digest the evidence and will decide accordingly. Besides Seth and his,second in command let an ada do the case. The aminus that was so prevalent in 2012 2013 is much lacking as of now.

    2. Anonymous, you literally do not know what you're talking about.

      McCormick took the stand in the last trial and ALREADY said he did not commit these crimes.

      With that said, even though McCormick appears odd on the stand, the defense is making a HUGE mistake not putting him up there to testify.

      - DPierre

    3. In all due respect, you forget that not only the defense that asks questions of the defendant on the,stand, but the prosecution whose questions may not be so charitable. Even if McCormick defends himself so well, the prosecutor will be skillful in eliciting reddening face and sweat beads running down face from him in front of jury. Those guys are pros as they want to put you away for life.

  2. Without knowing nothing about this man you pass such a severe judgment on him, How would you know anything about his faith or lack thereof? Perhaps his lawyer advised him not to take the stand and he is following his lawyer's advice? You have an unhealthy dose of self righteousness which is lethal. "The measure with which you measure will be measured back to you."

    1. I do not mind at all that I will be measured by the measure in which I measure. That is as it should be. The main difference is that when measured, I will NOT be found to be a monster masquerading as a "man of God" who sexually abuses children while pretending to be "God's spokesman" with higher ethical and moral standards than others. I also will not be found to be one of this "man of God's" supervisors who quietly moved him from place to place, refusing to remove this criminal from the "Church," thus allowing him to abuse even more innocent children. Men of God? Don't make me laugh! Higher ethical and moral standards??? Right...

    2. How do we know you won't be found to be judged as a pedophile predator, Anon 6Mar@7:35am? All that has to happen is somebody from the long past pop out of the woodwork and make an accusation against you. Who knows what skeletons you house in your self-righteous closets while you condemn others without any evidence? Maybe someone will take a shining to your house, car, whatever and see their pot of gold at the end of your rainbow. How would you defend yourself against a claim of minor abuse from a generation or more ago? Please, enlighten all the rest of us rubes.

    3. How would I defend myself? Well, I would stand up and shout my innocence every chance that I got. I would NOT turn down the opportunity to take the witness stand and let everyone in the world know that I did NOT commit these terrible crimes. I would immediately fire any lawyer who tried to discourage me from standing tall and telling the truth on the witness stand. I would NOT take little boys up to my room to share my bed or spend the night! What kind of monster takes other peoples children to their room and bed to "spend the night?" Enlightenment enough for you?! Perhaps you should tell your heroes (bogus "men of God") that it is NOT wise to sleep with children you meet while pretending to be morally and ethically superior because you work in a church. Need more enlightenment?

    4. He did testify last year's trial and it backfired on him. Prosecutors are uncaring pros who know how to get you put away for life. They don't care for the truth only to win a case and do everything possible, even lie, to make it happen. He is better off not testifying as why help prosecutors convict you? Let them sweat while jury deliberates.

    5. But, you never responded to how you would defend yourself (ignoring your bad decision to ignore your own attorney's advice, aside) against claims of minor abuse, with no evidence, from a decade or three ago? How would you defend yourself against such an accusation? Can you respond, directly, to a question, and also leave your aversion to religion, especially God and Catholics, out of it (are you OK with Allah and Imam's, though)?

    6. I am telling you how I would defend myself. I would stand up, look the jury and my accuser square in the eyes and tell the truth. I would act like a "man of God" is supposed to act, answer every question honestly and directly. If I thought it was alright to take young boys into my room or bed at night I would tell the jury why. If I thought it was alright to take young boys to Europe, on "vacation," and ply them with alcohol before spending the night in the same room with them I would tell the jury why. I don't have an "aversion" to religion, God, or Catholics, I have an "aversion" to "men of God" who sexually abuse innocent children, and to their enablers within the hierarchy of the "Church" who moved these criminals from location to location, allowing and facilitating even MORE sexual abuse of innocent children! And I have an "aversion" to Catholic apologists, like you, who blame the children for being assaulted by Catholic priests and who are willing to say anything in defense of these monsters... er, "men of God."

    7. Just because one is not an obvious bigot, as you are, does not mean one is an apologist- one may just simply be honest. You have a thoroughly evident hatred for Catholics, therefore, your skewed views and opinions (and nothing more since you clearly struggle with truths and evidence) about accused priests are highly colored by your hatred.

      I don't know if this accused priest is guilty, and neither do you. That fact we have in common. Where we differ, tremendously and significantly, is since I have no dog in this fight, i.e. I don't hate Catholics, I am willing to consider this man innocent, as we all should, until a jury determines otherwise.

      Of course you have an aversion to all Catholics, we already have that fact established by your own bigoted words right here. You should be thankful that Catholics are not considered a 'protected class', such as are gays or Muslims and other minorities, lest the thought police be knocking on your door in the middle of the night to haul you off to reeducation camp.

      Beware the precedents re: statutes of limitations and evidence you and your cohorts so eagerly set in order to trap Catholics, that nasty old dog could turn on it's owner soon enough.

  3. Anonymous 7:25, My friend you have no idea unless you have been on a jury how important that decision plays on the minds of a juror. For someone not to take the stand to defend themselves against a crime they say they did not commit leaves the juror to think what else may the accused be hiding. Body language plays a important factor. Is the defendant laughing at certain testimony is he becoming agitated or angry at certain testimony, and let us not forget how a defendant presents him or herself. Are they clean shaven, are they wearing a tie, are their shoes shined. Although some of these factors are not to play a role between innocence or guilt they do or you would not have defense lawyers spending money on their clients to look good.

    However, I don't think any of that will play a factor in the case although it could. The evidence is there to convict him. As pointed out earlier the defense's main witness contradicts his own testimony and that is never a good thing, You have a fellow priest testify against a fellow priest and that is not a good thing. You have a EMT testify Fr. Andy took a special interest in him, not knowing what he meant by that it allows jurors to come to their own conclusion what he meant, and the most damning is the victims own mother. stating she told McCloskey to stay away from her son and he did not.

    The only other concern I would have is if the jurors remember anything from the first trial, did not McCloskey by alcohol for underage children while in Poland. A typical grooming tactic for a child abuser.

    Don't let these yahoos get you down. They are probably on their hands and knees praying for a not guilty verdict. It may work it may not.

    p.s. one thing I forgot to include is outside sources. Although this is a big no-no in the jury room if you have jurors who know of any information regarding the other two priests in the Philadelphia area you may have a juror or jurors come down with a guilty verdict stereotyping all priests as molesters. It is one of the hardest things to prove because you must have the ability to read ones mind and say that is what they were thinking.

    1. No wonder this "man of God" refused to take the stand! Taking someone's child to Europe and buying alcohol for them... sleeping in the same bed with children... What kind of "man of God" does these things? It's too bad the jury did not get to hear this Catholic priest attempt to explain away these things!

  4. Interesting comments. Here's another one. If you'll recollect, the accuser stated that he was mesmerized by the 30 or some buttons on the priest's cassock and then watched as he unbuttoned all of them after which he was transfixed by the priests colored underwear. This statement - in and of itself - does not pass the red face test, and here's why:

    I wore a cassock for 5 years and can tell you that one NEVER unbuttons all the buttons to remove it. All one has to do is to unbutton the top 10 buttons or so and then step out of it. The procedure was reversed when putting the cassock back on. The only time that a cassock would be completely unbuttoned was when it was purchased new or returned from the cleaners. That's it, and I'd stake my reputation on it.

    If this priest's passions were inflamed to the point where he wanted to have oral sex with the accused, don't you think he would have removed the cassock in the most expeditions fashion rather than fumbling with 33 odd buttons?? Hardly.

    I think this kid's a brazen liar as is his grandfather who would probably like to blame someone for his grandson's sexual orientation. When in doubt, look for a roman collar.

    1. Wow is that an interesting point. Any other cassock wearers care to comment on this?

    2. You've hit the nail on the head re: your suspicion about the plaintiff's sexuality being at the root of this persecution. It's never too late to throw a beat down on the Catholic Church for her position on gay 'marriage', and it is ever-so easy to just trump up a claim from decades ago, that in the current climate of suspending laws, and logic, is state sponsored, as well as supported by a significant portion of the secular culture.

      We are witnessing a modern-day witch hunt based in bigotry; hatred for anything Christian, and most certainly anything Catholic- the last institution willing, and able, of standing against the total moral and ethical collapse of western culture.

  5. I would have agreed with you, seriously I would have agreed. But your gums kept flapping and made this into a debate over someone's sexuality.

    Then you made it a feel sorry for me statement because you wear a white collar.

    Father, and I don't say that with all the respect you think you deserve. The catholic Clergy is the largest group of organized individuals not only in the world but in history who has sexually abused children. Your group makes the boy scout leaders who abused children as angels.

    We know how much the Catholic Church hates homosexuals but what are you as a priest who I guess still says mass going to do when your pope tells your clergy that they must accept homosexuals into church. I would love to see the face on a ass like you when you tell everyone to give the sign of peace and you must watch two guys or girls kiss each other smack on the lips and hold hands right it front of you.

    The writing is on the wall padre

  6. The fellow who said he wore a cossack for five years is not a priest. Otherwise, he would still be wearing a cossack even if only occasionally. More than likely he was a seminarian at one point and left the seminary. I checked with my uncle who is a priest and he said that this person accurately described how a cossack is put on and taken off: only the top buttons are used. The fact that Anonymous 12:34 believes that cathlic priests are the largest group in history to abuse children
    , contrary to fact, shows that he or she is an irrational bigot.

  7. Yes, I was a seminarian from 1960 to 1965. As we used to say, a CASSOCK covered a multitude of shins. It was a versatile garment. But, nowhere did I ever see anyone buttoning all those buttons when putting it on or taking it off. We'd put it one the morning, go to Mass, eat breakfast, and take it off during morning study, put it back on to go to class, remove it prior to exercise, put it back on to walk to our rooms, take it off again for evening study, put it back on for supper, remove it to play ping pong or whatever, put it back on for night prayers and then remove it before going to bed.

    The top buttons got most of the wear and tear so we had to sew those on frequently. Not so (pun intended) for the other buttons. I doubt that any seminarian knew exactly how many buttons there were on their cassocks.

  8. What's the point of when you wore it or not. This kid came in within one button of how many buttons that are on a cassock. I have been a catholic for many years and I could not tell you to save my life on how many buttons there are. This seminarian doubts even those who wore cassocks knew how many buttons there were.

    You have a seminarian right here tell everyone the top buttons had to be sewn on frequently. That tells me this kid could have been right on how many buttons were on McCormick cassock.

    This is even more evidence this kid was abused. Trying to take himself out of the situation he knew was about to happen to him. Counting buttons, holes in ceiling tiles, some victims are known to sing or hum their favorite song. Anything to take their mind away from the abuse.

    1. but the accuser said that he watched Father Andy unbutton ALL the buttons.....

    2. Actually, there was not, and there still isn't any evidence. Lets not get carried away with our antiCatholic emotions here, dear Anons.

      You may find yourselves counting buttons (or weaving baskets and doing laundry)after some miscreant accuses you of some untoward sexual behavior a generation or two from now-

    3. Will court be open today?

    4. Only in the twisted world of Catholic apologists is the child victim of sexual abuse a "miscreant" and the adult who committed the sexual abuse some sort of "saintly hero" pretending to be "God's spokesman" on Earth! How about letting YOUR child spend the night alone in bed with this "man of God?" My guess is that you would come up with a million reasons why this would NEVER be done with your child... but it is perfectly fine for it to be done with other peoples children. But, then again, maybe you would allow it. God will protect the innocent children, right? Just like "He" protected all of the other innocent children who were sexually abused by these pedophile Catholic priests.

    5. Liars are miscreants, and who except for you is even mentioning God, or priests? It's about the lack of evidence, and nothing more, for me. But, apparently, for you, it is really more about God, men of God, Gods spokesmen- especially His Catholic priests, than anything having to do with real victims of abuse, and real-world predators. You know, like from where and whom the majority of abuse happens - from Daddy (are you a Daddy?), brothers, uncles, cousins, teachers, doctors, counselors, pastors, rabbis, imams, Hollywood elite, the gay subculture, the ice cream guy.

      Getting the picture, bigot?

  9. It looks like it. Going down there to find out.

  10. Where is the catholic lynch mob that we heard from during the Engelhardt, Shero and Lynn trials ? You know the ones that called Billy a liar and the ones who said the jurors back then were corrupt.

    Here is the man who sent your saintly Fr. Lynn to prison. Here is the man who calls him a monster. If Pasternak can be accused of being a corrupt juror back then why are we not still hearing those same words today ? Is it because he is a witness to help one of those monsters today ?

    You can call me anti-Catholic but what you can't call me is two-faced or hypocrite.

    1. "Billy" is a proven liar (documented, irrefutable), regardless of the guilt or innocence of any of those men he accused.

      Why do you keep infusing your comments with religious undertones- what one does as a vocation or occupation has no real bearing on his/her behavior.

      You are a two-faced hypocrite because your only interest is in persecuting Catholics, and their priests.

    2. You were one of those at the top of the list to bad mouth that jury. How come no words out of your mouth now ? You and I even Billy Doe did not send Lynn to prison but Pasternak did. Are things different now because he is giving testimony in the defense of someone he calls and calls your saintly Lynn a monster ?

      Those religious undertones are only the titles you have given these abusive priests. Saint, martyr etc. Why are they not good now ?

    3. You apparently can't read, or you lie - I submitted no comments about any jury. My focus is on lying so-called 'victims', while all you care about is persecuting priests.

      Your own lying words reveal your true intentions- which are to punish Catholics, even if it means sending innocents to prison. .


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