Friday, October 30, 2015

Will Billy Doe Face A Final Cross-Examination?

By Ralph Cipriano

Next Friday, in Courtroom 480 at City Hall, they're scheduled to pick a jury in the civil case of Billy Doe vs. the Archdiocese of Philadelphia et al.

The case still bears that title even though in August, the archdiocese settled with Billy Doe for a undisclosed pile of cash. It's an unholy pact that should have prompted every Catholic in town to demand that their archbishop tell them how much.

There are still three defendants left in the civil case; three men who went to jail for sexually abusing the credibility-challenged former altar boy turned heroin addict and accused dealer: ex-priest Edward Avery, the late Father Charles Engelhardt, and former Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero.

In the case of Shero, Judge Rosalyn K. Robinson ruled this morning that she was granting the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment in part. "It is hereby ordered, adjudged and decreed," the judge wrote, that "defendant Shero is collaterally estopped from denying or disputing that he committed the acts of sodomy and sexual abuse alleged in plaintiff's complaint."

A similar motion in the case of Avery is expected to be granted as well. That means for defendants Shero and Avery, rather than be allowed to contest the alleged sexual abuse of Billy, the civil trial, scheduled to begin Nov. 9th, would just become a hearing on how much more in damages should be awarded the plaintiff, to compensate for his alleged pain and suffering.

But here's where it gets interesting. Judge Robinson said she'll be ruling on the motion for summary judgment next week in the case of the late Father Engelhardt. And since the jury in Engelhardt's criminal case reached no verdict on the most serious charge, a count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, the judge may allow the civil jury to decide what actually transpired between the priest and the altar boy.

"Our argument is that a civil jury should be allowed to decide what assault if any occurred," said Thomas R. Hurd, the lawyer defending the estate of the late priest.

Hurd cautioned that the decision whether to grant summary judgment is up to the court. But asked if he expects to be able to cross-examine Billy Doe, Hurd replied that he certainly hopes so.

If not, the civil case is over before it starts.

Way back on Jan. 30, 2013, in the second archdiocese sex abuse trial, a Common Pleas jury found Shero guilty of the rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault.

In the case of Engelhardt, the jury on the same date reached no verdict on a count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child. But the jury found the priest guilty on four other counts: endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor, indecent assault on a person less than 13 years old, and conspiring with Father Ed Avery to commit sexual assault on Billy Doe.

Judge Ellen Ceisler subsequently threw out the conspiracy conviction as unproven.

It was a good start; it's a shame she didn't keep going.

On March 22, 2102, on the eve of the first archdiocese sex abuse trial, Avery pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and conspiring with Msgr. William J. Lynn to endanger the welfare of a child. At the time, Avery was facing a possible sentence of 13 1/2 to 17 years; his plea bargain resulted in a  sentence of 2 1/2 to 5 years.

At the Engelhardt-Shero trial, Avery, called as a prosecution witness, recanted, saying he had lied to take the plea bargain because he didn't want to die in jail. He said in court that never even met Billy Doe and wouldn't know him if he was in the courtroom.

In the civil case, a judge granted Avery permission to represent himself pro se. But Avery, who just got turned down for parole again, is still an inmate at SCI Laurel Highlands, in Somerset, PA, located some 238 miles west of Philadelphia. Since no arrangements have been mentioned on the docket that would bring him to town to play lawyer, it's doubtful that Avery will be around to defend himself during the civil trial.

With the archdiocese out of the picture, the civil case at this point basically boils down to a publicity stunt. Avery and Shero are broke; Engelhardt, who took a vow of poverty, doesn't have more than $1,000 left in his so-called estate.

So there's no money to go after. What Billy Doe's civil lawyers are looking for is a multi-million verdict from another gullible jury that will make a great headline in the local papers, where every accused priest is already guilty, and maybe some face time on the TV news.

But Hurd's presence could turn the civil case from a publicity stunt into a real trial.

The 67-year-old Engelhardt died in November 2014 at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa. He spent his last hours as a falsely-accused prisoner under armed guard and handcuffed to a hospital bed, after being denied potentially life-saving cardiac surgery.

At his funeral, Father James J. Greenfield, the leader of Engelhardt's religious order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, vowed to continue the legal battle to clear the priest's name.

On Sept. 9, at Hurd's request, Judge Linda Carpenter granted an "emergency motion to compel the independent medical examination" of the plaintiff. According to the judge's order, Billy Doe had to travel from Florida to be examined by Dr. Stephen Mechanick, a forensic psychiatrist in Bryn Mawr.

Such exams aren't cheap. But the oblates fight on.

Billy Doe testified in the first archdiocese sex abuse case, but defense lawyers elected not to cross-examine him because the marquee defendant, Msgr. Lynn, had never even met Billy.

On June 22, 2012, a jury in Common Pleas Court found Msgr. Lynn guilty of a single charge of endangering the welfare of a child. He was the first Catholic administrator in the country to go to jail for failing to adequately supervise predator priests. On July 24, 2012, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina sentenced Lynn to three to six years in jail, where he remains.

In the second archdiocese sex abuse case, Doe, who told an incredible tale on the witness stand, was capably cross-examined by Hurd's law partner, Michael J. McGovern. Billy told a constantly changing story contradicted by common sense -- as well as all the witnesses and evidence  in the case gathered by the district attorney's own detectives. But the jury inexplicably chose to believe Billy, and refused to talk about it afterwards.

It was a verdict that not only shocked the trial judge but several reporters who witnessed the miscarriage of justice.

In the civil case, Billy Doe was brought in for repeated depositions, and questioned by a roomful of lawyers.

Next week, if a judge rules in his favor, Thomas R. Hurd may get the final chance to cross-examine a witness that many lawyers in this town already know to be a professional liar.


  1. It appears that Judge Robinson is going to commit the most egerious of sins by denying Shero and Avery the constitutional right to defend themselves in this civil trial. she knows full well that defendants have the right to defend themselves, yet she wants to muzzle their ability to speak in their own defense. Avery is going to be left behind in prison so that Robinson can cite his lack of physical presence to grant Billy Doe the pennies left in Shero's name. Her strategy is to deny Hurd the right to cross examine Billy Doe, thus leaving him totally unscathed in the civil suit against the three men, two who languish in prison and the third is buried in a cold grave totally forgotten by all with the exception of friends and his family.

    Why did the Archdiocese settle with Billy Doe for much more than the twelve pieces of silver given Judas by the judge after he turned in Jesus? Judas flung the silver at the court and went home to hang himself. The twelve pieces of silver were used to.purchase land that became Potters Field and that was where Judas was buried. Why did Chaput cave in to pay Billy Doe a handsome payoff after being seduced by sweet nothings from Pope Francis?

    The answer is that Chaput wanted to become a Cardinal and to become one, he had to do with Pope Francis told him to do.. Stop the civil suit defense by paying off Billy Doe and his wish will be granted. Chaput threw Lynn under the bus to get a little red hat to add to the glory of his name. Or did he get word that the Archdiocese was going to get muzzled by another Judge in the lines of Robinson, Ceisler and Sarmina? If that is the case, then this is the sorry state of justice in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Civil settlements are confidential information unless the recipient choses to foresake the privacy by telling all how much Chaput paid him off.

    The most basic right to defend oneself in a civil trial has been compromised by Judge Robinson. She joins fellow judges Ceisler and Sarmina,in defending he veracity of a man who has virtually compromised child abuse victims by telling stories he cannot get straight and his behavior has been aided and abetted by Ceisler, Sarmina and Robinson as they strive to save him from perjuring himself on the witness stand.

    Iit is time to revoke the law licenses and bench privileges of Ceisler, Sarmina and Robinson. And it is time to put Billy Doe under relentless questioning of Hurd.

  2. Ralph, I think you finally agree about the same thing I have written on your blog over and over again. You may even say we are on the same page.

    You state "It's an unholy pact that should have prompted every Catholic in town to demand that their archbishop tell them how much."

    As I have said before the catholic church parishioners should be more of a voice then they are. The archbishop, priests and nuns don't make up a church the parishioners do. Take them away you have nothing but a brick building. Clergy should be looked at as employees. Parishioners should know everything about their priests. Why has Father such and such been moved around so much, Why is money being spent to fight sol laws, and why are we protecting these priests instead of calling the police. I think once the movie "SPOTLIGHT" comes out in November a lot of Catholics will have a jaw dropping wake up call. It will show a need for a parishioner board. One that can police the priests, its funds and operation.

    Sadly, I think its to late now. The damage has been done. The image of what people think of the catholic church won't go away for a long time. However, if parishioners don't get involved it will never go away. They can keep being told to jump and time after time they will ask high how.

    I believe this case is over the only thing that has to happen is the i's have to be dotted and the T's crossed.

    The only other thing I have to mention is it would have been nice for you to see both sides.( picking up a phone and asking another survivors opinion does not count)

    1. Hello Dennis -

      I just wanted to share something with you.

      When the Grand Jury reports were first issued, like many Catholics I was shocked by their content. This prompted me to visit the Catholics4Change blog where sexual abuse survivors' accounts were described.

      Until the insidious long term damages from childhood sexual abuse very recently surfaced in someone close to me, I had no idea how devastating and emotionally crippling the long term repercussions could be. I guess the Lord has opened my eyes as he did by knocking Saint Paul off his horse, as now I have to look at this topic through the lens of my own painful personal experiences.

      So, I wish you and your family the very best for the future, and I will keep you in my evening prayers along with other survivors.

      Peace, brother!

      PS - As for Billy Doe.....I still believe that he is a conniving liar.

  3. Billy Doe has already won-- 1 dead, and 3 in jail.


    2. still plenty of time in this scumbags life to relapse ....

      I light a candle each and every day ....

  4. Anonymous 6:44

    Thank You and I say that because I do not turn away any prayers if it is for me or my family. I am not God and I am far from being perfect..

    I am so glad to hear you went to Catholics4change to read the accounts of survivors and not just us but the families of survivors. I am sure you have read accounts from victims who for many years had a productive life and one day woke up and its like the world falls down around. The nightmares, the shaking begin to start all because the horror you suffered years and even decades ago and thought you had so tucked away the brain says its now time to face reality.. The people over at catholics4change are outstanding from Susan, Kathleen and everybody else I have not one negative word I could use to describe them. Only a short time ago I needed some help and those people sent from God made sure I got it. It did not matter if I was Catholic or not it was that bond we had because of what we suffered

    With Billy being a Liar or not I respect your opinion. I want to make this clear. I would not put down a $1.00 bet either way.. The people who know the truth know the truth and it will be sorted out by that man upstairs. I know I don't want to be around hoping from cloud to cloud (wishful thinking) when he unleashes his fury to either side.

    One of the things I did not feel was right towards Billy was this reporters constant attack towards Billy. I was one of the lucky ones, I did not deal with the issues Billy was reported doing. No doubt in my mind Billy was involved with drugs but if this reporter took time out to read a book on sexual abuse or even went to Catholics4Change.. In the very beginning I offered to Ralph to question me a abuse survivor.

    Clearly it came across as if Ralph jumped in bed with the archdiocese. To discredit a possible abuse victim no matter if it happened or not.

    Ralph will tell you he was a reporter who went after the archdiocese years ago for their spending habits but times change and people change they could have been sharing the same pillow now.


    1. The problem is that the DA had only two cases they could legally prosecute - Billy Doe and the McCormick abuse case. Everything else could not be prosecuted due to SOL issues. Had the State Legislature not allowed abuse victims from 1996 to file criminal charges, neither of the two prosecutable cases would have seen the light of day. Knowing this, DA Seth took his chances with Billy Doe and his many changeable stories that he could not get straight because he had nothing else other than Doe and the McCormick case to work with.

      No accident that the two cases were assigned to female judges. The knew their motherly instincts would kick into action with rulings designed to favor the prosecution. A bottom line male judge would have ruled accordingly on motions filed by the defense to drop the charges and that would be it.

      Or on the other hand, the Archdiocese was given the choice of going to trial with Billy Doe or taking a chance the State Legislature would pass a two year statute of limitations period to enable victims of child abuse by priests to file suit against the Archdiocese and they were risking the filing of as many as 800 cases (how many would be true and how many would be a money grab????? strong hint!). It would not be too surprising to me to find out that the Archdiocese chose to put Msgr. Lynn on trial with paid legal help given him vice taking the chance of seeing 800 civil claims filed against living and dead priests by victims, regardless whether they were abused or not.

      Judge Robinson may well be working with the Archdiocese to kill the civil case against Shero, Avery and the estate of Englehardt. Even more perplexing is Billy Doe's attorneys going after the three individuals knowing full well they are penniless. They would have been better off dropping claims against the three individuals vice taking the chance Billy Doe will have to face a last cross examination. It is pride and stupidity ruling judgment of Billy Doe's attorneys.

      Rev. Englehardt's relatives and fellow oblates would be better off asking Maryland's governor to grant Englehardt a pardon of the charges against him and that is it. Our own Governor Wolf would not do this at all, even when confronted with evidence of Englehardt's innocence.

  5. Interesting points. One other case that passed the SOL test was Mark Bukowski, against Father James J. Brennan, currently scheduled for retrial Jan. 4, 2016.

    1. Another hung jury. Or an acquittal depending on how the lawyer plays his cards in front of the jury. No doubt that Bukowski is a clone of Billy Doe.

    2. Since jury will be assembled Friday, still time for Billy Doe's attorney to reverse course and drop suit against three people, two in prison, one dead who have zero ability to pay. Only an idiot of an attorney would put client in risk of being deposed by Englehardt attorney.

      Learned long ago that stupidity can exceed one's intelligence and professional degrees.

    3. That lawyer is no dummy. Ask around.

    4. Which attorney? BIlly Doe's or Englehardt attorney Thomas Hurd? Stupidity would be having Billy Doe deposed by Thomas Hurd and running the risk of blowing wide open the case which would bring on deeper questions on Chaput's judgment in paying a settlement to Billy Doe. I'm in favor of Billy Doe facing one final deposition.

    5. I agree, bring that lying drug addict back from Florida to face a lawyer who has nothing to lose and is working on behalf of the deceased wrongly convicted priest Engelhardt who deserves to have his name cleared ......

      good luck to Attorney Hurd in his quest for the truth......and shame on the archdiocese for paying that extortion money to that lying scumbag, danny gallagher

  6. Bukowski has a similar profile to Billy Doe.

    1. it starts with "pathological liar"....

    2. I can see Ralph is not going for the open minded, objective, and non bias reporter of the year award.

      Instead going for that judge and jury award again

    3. Dennis - Did you get approval from your wife and therapist to begin writing on this blog site again? I would hate for it to bring back the false memories of your "alleged" abuse.

    4. Dennis, welcome back. You and I can agree that Archbishop Chaput should be more forthcoming.

      After that, not much.

    5. Hello Ralph

      anonymous 11:45 HAHA yes I did get approval especially from my wife. THE BOSS. But you should be more concerned not about me but what street corner Avery and Shero will be living on once released from prison.

      That is unless you are going to have them move in with you ? You may have to wait for Avery a little longer he was denied parole AGAIN.

    6. Shero is almost legally blind, and has been victimized all his life by his handicap, and his appearance. The alleged assault, as described by Billy Doe, is preposterous to anyone who has ever been an 11-year-old kid.

      A lumbering blind man and a nimble kid who, according to his own story, has already been raped by two priests, can't figure out how to run away from his latest assailant when they are parked on a lover's lane in broad daylight.

    7. How could anyone believe that kind of bullshit? Even an ideologue like yourself, Dennis. We should save our sympathy for the true victims of clerical rape, of which there are so many, as opposed to frauds like Billy out for easy cash.

    8. What's the latest on Danny's best friend Leo Hernandez - the gay dancer who has his own lawsuits going on?

    9. Now that's a new low. But its not surprising. Cipriano trying to pull on the heart strings of his readers reminding us Shero has a vision problem or whose appearance is different.

      Lets see now

      Shero had a Pennsylvania Drivers License
      Had a job. Was it a teaching degree he had or was working towards his degree ?
      No reports of any mental illness.
      Most important being able to survive life in prison.

      Does not sound like a lumbering blind man or a nimble kid to me. Looks like a person who could have groomed a child to be abused and the size to force a child to do what they want.

      .....and Ralph victims don't want or need your sympathy. We only want justice and punishment for those who protected and allowed our abuse to happen. But you would not know this since you have no clue or knowledge of a victim. I would say you appear to be the lumbering blind man.

    10. when you find a victim that is credible let us know. maybe their story will actually make sense and not fabricated and stretched in the Gallagher and bulkowski cases.

  7. What Chaput did was like the President of the United States calling off an airstrike against ISIS elements in Syria after the planes were gassed up and ready for bear. Attorneys from Stradley and Ronon were ready to go for bear only to have Chaput call off the dogs.

  8. Friday is coming .... and we will see whether Billy Doe aka Danny Gallagher even shows up in court to be deposed. Clock is ticking as his lawyers make book Judge Robinson will protect Billy Doe like a hapless child.

    1. That junkie and his family will likely be absent from the courtroom. James Sr. i'm sure doesn't want to be recognized by his fellow officers and the attention it might bring on him

    2. If this is the case, Billy Doe's attorneys will back out of their lawsuit and leave it settled dead with nothing against Shero, Englehardt and Avery.


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