Friday, July 24, 2015

Defense Lawyer: Father Andy Wasn't Suspended For Sexual Misconduct; He Also Passed A Polygraph Test

By Ralph Cipriano

Contrary to popular belief, Father Andrew McCormick was never suspended by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for sexual misconduct. The priest also passed a lie detector test.

So wrote Trevan Borum, the priest's defense lawyer, in a motion for mistrial filed during Father Andy's second criminal trial that ended March 11th with a hung jury. At the time the motion for a mistrial was filed, the case was under a gag order.

The defense lawyer's claim about the priest's suspension contradicts what was said about Father Andy at trial by a key prosecution witness as well as the prosecutor. It also contradicts a Philadelphia Daily News story.

The defense lawyer's claim about Father Andy passing a lie detector test contradicts a civil lawsuit filed July 10th against the priest by the alleged victim in the criminal case.

When asked for comment, Borum would only say, "I was disappointed that the rules of fair play meant nothing when trying to convict a priest by any means necessary."

A spokesperson for the district attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment.

On Feb. 27, at Father Andy's second criminal trial, the alleged victim's father testified he saw on a TV news report in 2011 that Father Andy was one of 21 priests suspended by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Later that same year, the son, a former altar boy, sent a text to his father at 3 a.m. explaining that "Father Andy molested me . . . That is the root of my problems."

"I was in shock," the father told the jury.

After the jury left the courtroom for the day, defense attorney Borum said he wanted to put something on the record.

Borum began shouting at Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp. The defense lawyer accused the prosecutor of implying while she was questioning the alleged victim's father that Father Andy had been suspended by the archdiocese for sex abuse.

His 2011 suspension had "absolutely nothing" to do with molestation, Borum protested loudly.

Oh yes it did, the assistant district attorney responded, her voice rising.

Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright dressed down both lawyers.

"I'm not going to have any of this," she said. The judge stated that she wouldn't allow her courtroom to be turned into a circus. Then she agreed to take the dispute to the privacy of the judge's chambers where we never heard what happened after that.

The judge subsequently denied Borum's motion for a mistrial.

According to the motion for mistrial filed during trial, "It is established beyond question that Defendant was not placed on leave based as the result of allegations of sexual misconduct," Borum wrote.

In a footnote, Borum wrote, "Counsel for the Government knows full well that there exists no prior complaints of sexual contact with minors against Father McCormick. At the first trial, and in open Court outside the presence of the jury, Counsel for the government falsely claimed Defendant had failed a polygraph test concerning sexual abuse of minors," Borum wrote.

"In fact, a cautionary instruction was read to the jury based on this misrepresentation," Borum wrote. "At the time that statement was made, Counsel for the government knew, or should have known, that statement was false."

"Despite the fact that there was a gag order in place, the press heard this false allegation, which may have led to the false report in the Daily News article," Borum wrote.

The Feb. 27th Daily News story stated that "the Archdiocese of Philadelphia placed McCormick on administrative leave in March 2011 in response to allegations of sexual misconduct with minors."

The motion does not state what the priest was suspended for. In an email, Borum said the priest wasn't suspended, he was placed on administrative leave. He did not say why.

Regarding the lie detector test, Borum wrote, "Counsel for the government's claim that the Defendant failed a polygraph test was refuted by both the assigned investigator and the technician that administered that very polygraph test. In fact they reached the opposite conclusion and found that ". . . there exists no sexual abuse of minors on the part of McCormick."

"Both the assigned investigator and the individual administering the polygraph test were retired FBI agents with over 30 years of experience," Borum wrote. "Defendant is unaware if counsel for the government has any experience in interpreting polygraph results."

"These bad faith claims in both the first trial and in the instant trial cannot be considered harmless," Borum wrote. "They were intentional and designed to insure that Defendant does not receive a fair trial."

The district attorney had charged Father Andy with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault of a child, and corrupting the morals of a minor.

If convicted on five sex charges, the 59-year-old priest was facing a prison term of 25 to 50 years.

At Father Andy's second trial, the D.A. was so determined to win that they offered the priest a sweetheart deal. After, the jury sent the judge a note saying they were at an impasse, the prosecutor told the priest that if he would plead guilty to a single charge of corrupting the morals of a minor,  he was looking at no jail time, four years probation, and he wouldn't even have to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law.

But  the priest turned down that deal as well, saying I can't plead guilty because that would be a lie; I'm innocent.

The jury came and said they were hopelessly deadlocked. It was the second time a criminal trial of Father Andy had ended in a deadlock. The D.A. then announced they would not try Father Andy a second time.

On July 10th, the alleged victim filed a civil suit against Father Andy.


  1. In my option what confounds a jury or the public for that matter , is theorizing why the prosecution would distort facts, the jury may ask themselves what has the prosecution to gain from incriminating an innocent person. Surely an attorney sworn to protect the public , that works for the federal government would never dishonor themselves or the judicial system by misleading a jury or the public. Being hired by the judicial department the attorney's, or I thought were held to a higher standard, the cream of the crop, the best the country has to offer. Except there are no rules that cant be broken, no detail to small to twist to arrive at a guilty verdict or more likely a plea bargain. Everyone is happy, the feds get a win the accused accepts a lesser sentence ,counts are dismissed, everyone except the innocent The attorneys working for the government have unlimited power and no accountability whatsoever, their use of the media raises the stakes for accused. Playing fair is not in the playbook for the feds. We need to hold the media accountable for getting information correct and not just from the prosecution side, taking responsibility for playing a part in incriminating a defendants before they get to trial should be a punishable, the same way holding prosecutors accountable for their actions should be common practice. Juries need to wake up, the cards are stacked against a defendant in our judicial system, this a realty that must be dealt with at every turn. Taking the rose colored glasses of the jurors should be job one, I would suggest going to the National Registry of Exonerations and start reading.

  2. We know the reason why McCormick was suspended. It was because of an investigation into sexual misconduct. Concerns of abuse especially levied by the grand jury report against this particular priest.

    We know that because of statements released by the archdiocese of Philadelphia and their own Kenneth Gavin who wrote on July 27, 2012 and also on March 12, 2014 and let us not forget statements made by Justin Rigiali for the reason McCormick was suspended.

    Sadly, another defense attorney who is representing a bad apple.

    1. Do you know how to actually read?

      The statement read:
      "The cases of those placed on leave at that time ranged from allegations of sexual abuse to ***boundary issues with minors***."

      In other words, one could have been placed on leave for reasons other than sex abuse.

      Get it?!

    2. Dave, you're so informed and so well read, give us some examples of those boundary issues. Did someone have their hand or their foot too close to a minor? Could a boundary issue include bringing boys to a priest's bedroom to help the priest move furniture? Would it be simply a boundary issue if a priest brought boys to a cottage or to the priest's parents' home? What exactly is a boundary issue for a priest regarding a minor?

  3. Print this page

    July 27, 2012


    Father Andrew McCormick was one of a number of priests placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in March of 2011. That action was in response to concerns noted in the Grand Jury Report issued last February. The cases of those placed on leave at that time ranged from allegations of sexual abuse to boundary issues with minors. Since that time Father McCormick has not been permitted to exercise his public ministry, administer any of the Sacraments, or present himself publicly as a priest.

    Last night he was arrested and charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, corrupting the morals of a minor, indecent assault, and indecent exposure. We understand from law enforcement that they received an allegation in December of 2011 which led to this arrest. This is a new allegation to the Archdiocese.

    Father McCormick is 56 years old. He was ordained in 1982. He has served at the following parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Saint Adalbert Parish, Philadelphia (1982-1986); Saint John Cantius Parish, Philadelphia (1986-2000); Saint Bede the Venerable Parish, Holland (2000-2004); Sacred Heart Parish, Swedesburg (2004-2011).

    If you have any information regarding this situation please contact the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit at 215-685-3251 or the Philadelphia District Attorney's Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit at 215-686-8080

  4. March 12, 2014


    Father Andrew McCormick was placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in March 2011. This action followed concerns raised by a Grand Jury Report issued in February of that year. Since that time, he has not exercised public ministry. He has not and may not administer the sacraments publicly or present himself as a priest in good standing.

    In July 2012 police arrested Father McCormick based on an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor received directly by law enforcement. That allegation had not been previously reported to the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese immediately and publicly urged individuals with relevant case information to contact either the Philadelphia Police Department's Special Victims Unit or the Philadelphia District Attorney's Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit.

    The Archdiocese was not involved in Father McCormick's legal defense and did not underwrite its costs.
    The Archdiocese will not move forward with its canonical process as the criminal proceedings against Father McCormick have not come to a conclusion. Father McCormick will remain on administrative leave with all current restrictions in place at this time.

    We understand that the spotlight on Father McCormick's trial has been difficult for survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones. We regret their continued burden and urge survivors and their families to seek support and assistance through the Victim Assistance Program administered by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780 or

    The Church remains committed to helping the survivors of sexual abuse heal, and to ensure that all young people in her care are protected. We pray for all those impacted by the outcome of this trial and especially for all those who suffer due to the tragedy of sexual abuse.

    To date I believe McCormick is still removed from ministry and may not present himself as a priest

  5. With the above two statements, shouldn't Borum be advising McCormick to sue the Archdiocese if he believes that the Archdiocese lied about him? I guess Borum is also claiming that there's a difference between being suspended and being placed on administrative leave. Isn't Borum going to have to tell the jury in this civil case why McCormick was placed on leave and stop all of the secrecy about it? It sounds like it may have been boundary issues with a minor, and it also sounds like there's a lot of playing with semantics here.

  6. I know nothing of Fr. Innocence or guilt, but grand juries are lead by the nose by the prosecution and always result in an indictment. I am reading the word allegation, not guilt. It seems the Archdiocese acted properly in administrative leave . Were there any other people that called and made the same allegations since there were numbers given to report abuse ? That would be a question I would want answered. Even if it happened once its a horrific crime but is it turning into a Bill Cosby avalanche of victims ?

  7. There were no prior complaints of sexual molestation against Fr. McCormick prior to this case. Not one. The boundary violations he was alleged to have committed were proven laughable at trial when a former altar boy (now a state trooper) testified on behalf of McCormick. Read the statement by the Church more carefully, it lumps all 22 priests together saying THEY were placed on leave for allegations RANGING from sexual misconduct to boundary violations. To date almost half of those priests have been reinstated and the process continues. Those are the facts, not semantics.

    1. Thank you for clarifying the facts. It is much appreciated.

  8. Why did Kemp tell the court there were other prior complaints of sexual molestation when there were not? Why did Kemp argue to the jury that the so-called complainant had no intention of filing a civil suit when that wasn't true? Why did Kemp dispute the conclusions of the investigator and polygraph examiner who in 2005 concluded there was no evidence of sexual molestation on the part of Fr. McCormick? Why won't Kemp comment? We deserve answers.

  9. More than half of the suspended priests were not reinstated to the Archdiocese after they were cleared and their fate forwarded to Chaput for final decision. And those priests could not be prosecuted due to the expiration of the SOL. A good number were rung up for boundary violations which were not criminal in nature, yet that was not good enough for passing Chaput's muster and they were kicked off the Archdiocese. McCormick went through two trials that ended up as hung juries and he incurred legal fees indefending himself.

    Would he be entitled to be reimbursed by the Archdiocese for his legal fees? Yes, as he was not convicted of the crimes he was charged with. Plus the DA declined to try him for a third time. Will the Archdiocese pay his legal fees? NO, not at all. Will he sue to have his legal fees paid - probably while knowing full well his fate has been already set in Chaput's mind. About the meritless civil suit, his attorney will probably file motion for it to be dismissed. If the dismissal is not granted by a judge, then what will he do if the Archdiocese will not pay his legal fees from the two trials and he will be scheduled for civil trial?

    One option he will try to do is to file for bankruptcy and say he has no assets to pay any civil settlement. He will not show up for a civil trial and a judge will find for the victim the damages he so desires. It will be pointless for the victim to take further action to collect if McCormick lives in poverty.

    But, given all this that will happen, what will the other priests that are still gainfully employed by the Archdiocese think of their employer's refusal to defend a priest who is still considered legally innocent after two mistrials and the DA's decision not to go for a third trial? Wouldn't the other priests be afraid of a false accusation made by anybody which would leave them financially destitute once cut off by the Archdiocese? Wouldn't that inspire would be gold diggers to take a try at snaring a priest by claiming falsely that that priest abused them?

    That is why the Archdiocese would be wise to defend Mc Cormick by paying off the legal fees incurred by the two trials that ended up as mistrials and to allow its insurance company to defend him in a civil trial by deciding whether or not it would offer a settlement to the victim without admitting any guilt or fighting the lawsuit. If they paid all Lynn's legal expenses only to see him convicted of flimsy charges in a kangaroo trial run by Judge Sarmina, and then refused to pay the legal fees of any other potential priest victim of a scam run by a former student who attended their schools, then something is wrong.

    Today, children are safer in the schools run by the Archdiocese because of safeguards built in the program. Volunteers and teachers are required to get criminal background checks and children are kept where they are safe from the clutches of any potential molester. There are too many eyes watching over the children in the schools and that serves as a strong deterrence against any harm done to them.

  10. I see a very large settlement awarded to this victim.

    In the Billy Doe case I see a jury award of 40 to 50 million.

    1. Never as he tells stories that change by the day. He has already been deposed and he has not done too good. Defense attorney can file motion to dismiss in the civil trial all of his meritless abuse testimony he told at the criminal trials of three priests and a teacher. Once motion granted, civil trial will collapse on its merit and Billy Doe will be ruing not taking the generous settlement of 15K-30K proffered by the Archdiocese.

    2. In what universe do you live? Have you not followed the story and all the inconsistencies in the stories of the alleged victims? At most I see both suits being settled for a nominal amount so as to put an end to the nuisance suits which both are.

  11. I would truly like to read something in writing that Mr. Doe "has not done to good" when it comes to his deposition instead of one persons opinion like yourself. A defense attorney will say anything he likes as we see here playing on words like McCormick being suspended or put on administrative leave. In the end whatever terminology you use the outcome for McCormick is still the same. Removed from ministry and unable to present himself as a priest except maybe on Halloween. The 15K-30K settlement you say has been offered by the Archdiocese to Billy is news to me and I would consider that an insult, you or I could win that amount of money being involved in a MVA with minor injuries. I will say that 15-30 does sound like a more realistic numbers though but those numbers will have 6 zeros after them.

  12. Read the statement from the Church. They use the words "administrative leave." The defense attorney was accurate. Get your facts straight.

  13. I am the one who posted those statements from the archdiocese and I am aware of what they say, I ask you though what is the difference between suspension or administrative leave. Enlighten us because I have checked the difference between the two are none except administrative leave may seem a little more friendly then suspension.

    What you should be questioning is why Borum stated he had no idea of why McCormick was suspended, so sorry I mean placed on administrative leave. It is in the archdiocese statement why . Concerns raised by the Grand Jury. At last check the grand jury report involved sexually abusive priests which included McCormick.

  14. Fired, terminated and furloughed. Different words same outcome.

  15. You made a big deal of the semantics? You implied Borium was somehow misleading. How ironic given the prosecutors conduct during the trial. Borum didn't place McCormick on Administrative leave, the Church did. Ask them why they did when McCormick was cleared of the boundary violations in 2005 he was alleged to have committed. At trial, the allegations were laughable. You should stop spreading misinformation and keep it to the facts.

  16. At last check the grand jury report also included priests that were alleged to have committed boundary violations like McCormick. The spurious complaint in this case from a liar looking for a payday came AFTER McCormick was placed on leave. Prior to that there was not one person who claimed McCormick sexually assaulted them. You have no regard for to truth when you claim the grand jury investigation involved complaints of sexual abuse by McCormick. I heard Kemp is hiring - you would be perfect for the job!!

  17. As the former FBI Special Agent who conducted a lengthy investigation of Father Andy the conclusion found no evidence of sexual abuse of minors. A polygraph examination also found no deception. On the other hand, the District Attorney's office has displayed deception in many of their clergy prosecutions.

    1. This sounds disingenuous. You're the former FBI Special Agent and the best you can do is comment anonymously on Ralph's blog?

  18. Was Father McCormick placed on administrative leave so the Archdiocese could investigate claims of boundary violations? If so, who made the claims, did they span across all the parishes that Father served at, and what ever came of those claims? Was "John Doe" ever even on the short list of people who made boundary violation complaints?

  19. Adam Visconto and his mother made the boundary violation complainants. Father McCormick was cleared in 2005 of those alleged boundary violations. He was placed on leave nevertheless. Visconto and his Mom testified at both trials. Please read the transcripts. He was discredited when a now state trooper directly contradicted his claims. The jury was actually laughing. That was the only boundary violation complaint. Why the Archdiocese placed him on administrative leave to re investigate that claim is a question best directed to the Archdiocese.

    1. That's why I think Borum should file a cross-claim and bring the Archdiocese in as a third-party defendant. If you get sued, and some other party did the damage, you get to bring them into the case and depose them and send them discovery, etc. I totally don't get what Borum is doing with his semantics when he could bring in the Archdiocese and pin them down as to exactly what happened and put a stop to all this secrecy.

      One common thread in all of these priest cases is that their defense counsel will not touch the Archdiocese and they are, therefore, not advocating for their client properly. I've noticed many instances of apparent malpractice in reading about all of these cases. Nobody ever talks about the half-hearted efforts of defense counsel. Everybody's mad at the D.A.'s, the juries, judges, etc. Nobody ever looks squarely at the lawyer who is sort of, kind of defending the priest.

    2. In your opinion, why do you think Borum is not going after the Archdiocese for a straight forward answer as to why Father McCormick was placed on administrative leave?

    3. I don't know why. None of the defense counsel go after the Archdiocese. The worst of all was the lawyer who represented Lynn and stood by while Lynn was warned over and over by the Judge that he has a conflict of interest with the Archdiocese paying for his defense. The Judge demanded repeatedly to know if Lynn understands the ramifications of that. The lawyer went ahead and half-heartedly defended Lynn despite the dire warnings from the Judge. It went badly for Lynn and everyone here blamed everyone but the lawyer who knew as well as Lynn that Lynn couldn't win without going after the higher-ups in the Archdiocese. That was the real sham of the Lynn trial, not whether the jurors, judges and D.A.'s hated Catholics or any of that other nonsense spewed on this blog constantly.

  20. I cannot take the word of any FBI agent who feels the DA displayed deception to prosecute abusive clergy when his own organization showed deception to jam up innocent police officers.

    One should question why the archdiocese still has McCormick still on suspension. Unable to present himself in anyway as a roman catholic priest. I think the answer will not be shocking. " We do not trust him around children of our church and public, he is a threat and liability"

    1. Your statement makes no sense. So you distrust the entire FBI organization because some members "jammed up" innocent police officers? The guy says that he is a retired FBI agent and the one who conducted the polygraph on Fr. McCormick. His expertise is not to be trusted because he once worked for the FBI? Not logical.

      As to why this priest is still on administrative leave....the archdiocese said that it needed to wait for the criminal trial to be over before it would begin its own investigation. These investigations have proven to take normally one years time.

      He was cleared of the "boundary issue" back in 2005. I have every confidence that he will be cleared again. He has been around 1000s of children throughout the course of his long priestly ministry. NO ONE has ever claimed that he or she was abused by Fr. McCormick until that toad came along and made the false accusation.

      I don't understand how priests persevere in their work when all it takes is one nut or a vindictive person to ruin your reputation and career.


    1. Not an unreasonable question. However, that is the protocol established by the Archdiocese. Whenever there is an allegation against a priest there is a two fold investigation : secular authorities and church authorities do their own independent investigations. They are being overly cautious so that no one can accuse them of negligence. I'm telling you that McCormick will be reinstated. will probably happen next year.

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