Friday, November 6, 2015

Billy Doe Punks Out

You paid Billy Doe how much?
By Ralph Cipriano

In the civil case of Billy Doe vs. the Archdiocese of Philadelphia et al., it's all over before it even got started.

This morning, lawyers in the case were scheduled to pick a jury in Courtroom 480 at City Hall, in preparation for going to trial at 9:30 a.m. Monday, "trial date certain," according to the court docket.

But late last night, Billy Doe's lawyers notified other lawyers in the case that the trial was off and the case was "being discontinued."

The big question is why. The short answer appears to be that with no money left on the table, Billy Doe's lawyers decided not to risk exposing their client's complete lack of credibility by proceeding with what would have been at best, a show trial. A show trial where the only thing left to gain was some headlines about a big jury verdict that they would have never been able to collect from the three penniless defendants left in the case.

But on the risk side of the risk/reward ledger, there was a chance, depending on the judge's rulings, that the show trial could have turned into a real trial, and Billy Doe would have been unmasked in court as a complete fraud. The next big question is what was it that Billy Doe and his lawyers were so afraid of coming out that they didn't want to run the risk of going ahead with the trial, and putting their boy on the stand?

In the absence of official comment, let the speculation begin. But before we get to that, however, how do you think Archbishop Charles J. Chaput feels right now? He's the guy who gave Billy Doe a confidential settlement in August because he'd presumably been frightened to death by his lawyers about the prospect of a big jury verdict for Billy, and against the church.  But then, on the eve of trial, after that fat check from the archdiocese had already cleared the bank, Billy Doe and his lawyers punk out.

Who's left holding the bag? Archbishop Chaput, the chump who got suckered, possibly for millions. Not to mention all of those faithful Catholics who still throw their dollars in the collection basket.

Party time for Billy
There were a trio of potential time bombs still ticking if the Billy Doe civil case went to trial on Monday, as originally planned. Since the lawyers in the case aren't talking and the spokesman for the archdiocese is still hiding under his desk, let's take a look at what might have frightened Billy and his lawyers.

Potential Time Bomb No. 1: Judge Rosalyn K. Robinson had yet to rule on a motion filed by the plaintiff for summary judgment against the late Father Charles Engelhardt, who died in jail after being falsely accused by Billy. If the judge ruled against that motion, it would have cleared the way for the lawyer for the late priest's estate to cross-examine Billy.

The door in the civil case was left open because the jury in Father Engelhardt's criminal case didn't reach a verdict on the most serious charge him, a count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child.

That same door, however, was closed to the other two defendants left in the civil case, ex-priest Edward Avery and former Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero. That's because Avery pleaded guilty and Shero was found guilty by a jury of multiple charges against him.

Regarding Avery and Shero, Judge Robinson had already ruled that each defendant was "collaterally estopped from denying or disputing that he committed the acts of sodomy and sexual abuse alleged in plaintiff's complaint."

But the judge had yet to rule on the motion for summary judgment against Engelhardt.

"Our argument is that a civil jury should be allowed to decide what assault if any occurred," Thomas R. Hurd, the lawyer for Engelhardt's estate, told Big Trial last week.

If Billy Doe was subject to cross-examination, Hurd could have had a field day. There was so much material to choose from.

For starters, there was all the evidence that didn't make it into the criminal trial of Engelhardt and Shero. Such as the meticulous calendars kept by Billy's mother that recorded all significant events in the lives of her two altar boy sons. Like every time those two altar boys were supposed to serve Mass. The problem for Billy was that his mother's calendars showed no early morning Masses  during the school year Billy claimed he was raped by two priests.

Since the criminal trial of Engelhardt and Shero, lawyers in the civil case have come across plenty of "newly-discovered evidence" in the form of contradictory and false statements made by Billy Doe to his many drug counselors. One defense lawyer aptly described those statements as an ongoing "fantasy of sexual abuse."

The newly discovered evidence included medical records that showed that Billy at first told his drug counselors he had "no history of physical or sexual abuse."

Then Billy claimed to his drug counselors in chronological order that he was:
 sexually abused at 6 by a friend;
 sexually abused at 7 by a teacher;
 sexually abused or raped at 8 by an unknown assailant;
 sexually abused or raped at 9 by an unknown assailant;
 sexually abused again at 9 by a 14-year-old family friend.

Billy's lawyer on the eve of trial
This was before Billy got around to telling the district attorney that he was raped at 10 by two priests, and at 11 by a school teacher.

Potential Time Bomb No. 2: On Sept. 9th, Judge Linda Carpenter granted an "emergency motion to compel the independent medical examination" of the plaintiff. According to the judge's order, Billy Doe was required to travel from Florida to be examined by Dr. Stephen Mechanick, a forensic psychiatrist in Bryn Mawr.

If the forensic psychiatrist had some doubts about Billy's credibility, that could have posed a problem for Billy and his lawyers.

Potential Time Bomb No. 3: On the eve of the Billy Doe civil case, originally scheduled to begin Monday, a bunch of subpoenas went out seeking witnesses who could poke more more holes in Billy's stories.

People like retired Detective Joseph Walsh, who led the district attorney's investigation into Billy Doe's allegations. All the evidence that I've seen gathered by Walsh, and all the witness statements the detective took, contradicted the tales told by Billy. Including the statements the detective took from Billy's own mother, father and older brother.

The pile of evidence gathered by Walsh was so damning that one defense lawyer, Mike Wallace, used to say whenever he saw Walsh coming, "Here comes my detective."

Another problem witness for Billy would have been Judy Cruz-Ransom, a social worker who was a victims’ assistance coordinator for the Philadelphia archdiocese. Cruz-Ransom and another archdiocesan social worker, Louise Hagner, took the first statement from Billy, after he called in on an archdiocesan hotline to claim he was abused. 

In the appeal of Engelhardt's and Shero's criminal convictions, defense lawyers accused prosecutors of misconduct because they didn't tell them about a secret interview they had with Cruz-Ransom before the criminal trial started.

In the civil case, however, defense lawyers were able to depose Cruz-Ransom. And what did they discover? That Cruz-Ransom corroborated the testimony of Hagner in the criminal case, testimony that was relentlessly attacked during the criminal trial by the district attorney. 

In her civil deposition, Cruz-Ransom confirmed many details told by Hagner. Such as Billy Doe appeared sober and seemed to be faking tears as he told wild stories about being anally raped for hours by his alleged assailants, getting punched and knocked unconscious,  being tied up with altar sashes and strangled with a seat belt.

All those wild stories disappeared when Billy retold his tales to the police and grand jury, in favor of a completely new story line about strip teases, oral sex and mutual masturbation. Billy's explanation for his creative story-telling was that he was high on drugs when he talked to the social workers.

Passing the basket for Billy
Billy Doe may have punked out in the civil case. But there are couple of appeals in the criminal cases still left over from the district attorney's self-proclaimed "historic" prosecution of the church.

A crusade that was a cynical political ploy for the district attorney of Philadelphia to cash in on the sins of the archdiocese by using phony victims.

Shero, serving 8 to 16 years, has an appeal pending before the state Supreme Court.

Msgr. William J. Lynn, serving 3 to 6 years, has an appeal pending before the state Commonwealth Court.

Former priest Avery, currently serving a sentence of 2 12 to 5 years, has no appeals pending. He just got turned down again for parole.


On Monday, Judge Rosalyn K. Robinson posted an entry on the court docket that said, "the court having been advised this case has been settled, the case shall be marked 'discontinued'" on the docket, and shall be "removed from the applicable list and inventory of pending cases."


  1. This is good news. Hopefully, this will help Shero and Lynn in their pending appeals. Neither man should have to spend even one more day in prison given the fantasy tales of sexual abuse spun by Billy Doe which not only enriched him, but hurt hundreds of abuse victims whose stories will not be believed at all due to what Billy Doe did. Even worse is the stupidity of DA Seth Williams who chose to ignore the advice of a previous DA, Lynn Abraham not to prosecute under the child endangerment act as it did not apply to Msgr Lynn who had nothing to do with abuse victims as he was charged with assigning priests to new parishes and handling therapy treatment of priests with psychological issues. The law did not apply to Lynn at all! Were it to apply, every school principal would face jail if a child was abused by a teacher and the local DA decided to put the principal on trial.

    How much did Billy Doe get from the Archdiocese? Millions? Given the closure of parishes, schools and the gnashing of teeth by parishioners crying over the closing of their beloved parish, I doubt it was millions as how could Chaput pay him millions when the Archdiocese is still struggling financially with supporting churches who cannot support themselves and with churches needing millions to refurbish aging churches and school buildings. People will think of the proverbial millionaire who will promptly write a check for Chaput to give to Billy Doe, but keep in mind those millionaires work hard to make their money and if they donate, they want it to go to a worthily charity that will do good.

    My best bet - 500k to 750K. And I wouldn't be too surprised that the lawyers for a powerhouse Philadelphia law firm representing the Archdiocese were cognizant of the church's financial problems to drive a very hard bargain with Billy Doe's attorneys to reduce the final settlement way down from what they wanted. And since the settlement came BEFORE the Pope came to visit, pressure may have been put on Billy Doe's attorneys to settle now or get much less AFTER the Pope leaves town.

    I do not think Chaput was pressured by the Pope to settle Billy Doe's case. Even if commanded to do so, he would have been smart enough to reply that we will do whatever we can within reason. And the vise driving hard on the Billy Doe legal team convinced them to settle.

    Now the case is over. Work on the appeals of Shero and Lynn to get the charges thrown and them released from prison. Work can begin on securing a pardon from Pennsylvania Governor Wolf and failing that, the current Governor of Maryland. The pardon will clean Englehardt's good name and be a source of comfort to his family and friends even though they cannot bring him back.

    Lessons have been learned and changed put in place to protect children. Teachers, staff members and priests have undergone training on boundary issues they must follow in order to ensure the safety of children. This is the best we can do and this work will continue on indefinitely.

  2. YES, this case is over.

    However, since we are already reading Ralph's input regarding the re-trial of Brennan and his description of the possible clergy abuse victim we will most likely read the same again.


    Ralph see the movie "SPOTLIGHT" see journalism done the right way.

  3. You mean journalism that agrees with your prejudices, correct?

    The only problem was the National Catholic Reporter had already blazed that trail back in the 1980s, with the work of Jason Berry.

    Dave Pierre has written an interesting book about the Spotlight team that shows another side of that story, a story Dennis wouldn't be interested in:

  4. "Sins of the Press" another fire log Dave describes as another "Untold Story"

    There is no other side to the story except in Dave's mind. The reality is clergy caught red handed torturing children in the past and present and the catholic church tried in every way possible to hide and lie away those facts.

    You should stop by Bishop Accountability and read the names and see the faces of those facts. They are disgusting.

    Ralph Cipriano, Bill Donahue and Dave Pierre. The literary three stooges.

  5. Did you read the book? Oh wait, you probably didn't have to.

  6. I would say "Billy Doe punks out... after repeatedly punking out the Catholic pedophile priests and their enablers (and good old "impartial" Ralph) within the Catholic church." And while laughing all the way to the bank! The little "punk" really "punked out" the big "punks" and their shills. Now it's on to the next example of the wonderful "Christian" behavior by these "men of God" as truthfully depicted by the movie "Spotlight." By the way, how are the appeals for the convicted pedophile priests and their enablers going, Ralph?

  7. Your right I don't have to read his new failure. You read one piece of work from Pierre you have read them all. Why spend a dollar on anything he writes when it is nothing more then his constant whining. Besides if I want to read the words of a whiner I can come here and read it for free.

    I also have this respect for works from authors and media who have won that Pulitzer like Frost, Hemingway, Bradbury, Dr .Seuss and the Boston Globe, and not found only on a Amazon shopping list.

    I am curious to know if the catholic church told their parishioners not to see the movie SPOTLIGHT ? Telling them they will go to hell if they did ?

  8. Sounds like Avery punked out too. I was hoping to see him go pro se. Let's see, he copped a plea to get a shorter sentence, then appeared as a witness and recanted causing him to have to serve his full sentence, and now he's not going to defend himself at all. Maybe he finally figured out that his inexplicable appearance on the witness stand was more bizarre than Billy Doe's stories and caused the jury to realize that the whole bunch are liars and need to be sent to jail.

    1. Judge Robinson took steps to bar Avery from coming to the trial. Prison didn't want to spare car, driver and guards to travel to Philadelphia. So, that's why Avery was kept back in jail as his presence was a moot issue after Billy Doe as his attorneys declined to proceed with a trial in order to protect him from being deposed by Hurd. In the end nobody was going to get money from three priests and a teacher with zero asset to pay off claims.

    2. No, Avery wasn't kept back in jail. It doesn't matter if it was a moot issue. It doesn't matter what the prison wanted to do or didn't want to do. And the Judge definitely did not take steps to bar Avery from representing himself pro se. If the Judge had done that or if the prison had refused to transport him, Avery could sue the daylights out of them and dozens of lawyers would be all over such a slam dunk case seeking enormous damages.

      Avery chose not to represent himself, perhaps because it was moot, or perhaps because he still doesn't understand how absolutely devastating his appearance on the witness stand turned out to be for the other defendants.

      There does still remain a prison question which has not been clarified. How did Englehardt die? Has the family filed any claim? If he was denied medical care, that was done by doctors. And it would have been completely documented. In a high profile case like this, if he was denied medical care and died as a result, the family would be seeking to avenge his untimely death even if they can't clear his name. I wish Ralph would look into this.

    3. Sarah you mystify me. Avery chose to represent himself, made an appeal to the court and it was approved by a judge.

    4. Thank you for reporting the truth Ralph. So glad we don't have to rely on Sarah for information....she clearly has no idea what she's talking about when it comes to Avery.

  9. Billy Doe probably 'punked out' was because his lawyers understandably didn't want to be thoroughly embarrassed and ridiculed by their peers because of their parts in this egregious miscarriage. I have to assume that Hurd would have mercilessly cross-examined Billy until either the complete unvarnished truth spewed forth or the inconsistencies in his abuse accounts would have been obvious to even the most dim-witted juror.

    What really miffs me is how Chaput 'settled' this case at the 11th hour, effectively throwing Monsignor Lynn, Avery, Engelhardt and Shero under the ecclesiastical bus. He had a truly, once-in-a lifetime golden opportunity to vindicate everyone involved - and he muffed it.

    But why?

    - Was he muzzled by the Pope?
    - Was he promised a 'red hat' if he made this 'go away' before the Pope's visit?
    - Did his insurance company view this case as a bad risk?
    - Or did he simply wimp out?

    1. I would say all of the above. Insurance companies do a cost benefit analysis in determining whether or not it is worth it to go to trial. That is why they offer settlements. Plus Archdiocese's powerhouse law firm drove hard bargain with Billy Doe's lawyers.

    2. Ahhh... the "plot" thickens. Now add the Pope, Chaput, and the "insurance companies" to the every growing list of "conspirators" responsible for the convictions of several pedophile priests and their enabler (er... excuse me, I meant to say "esteemed men of God") within the Catholic Church. Sexually abusing a child and covering it up got these "Christians" thrown under the bus of justice and accountability... not some grand conspiracy. It is laughable and completely ludicrous to think that Chaput threw away a chance to "vindicate" these criminals. He simply decided to "cut his losses" and move on from these losers. He understands that they were having a negative effect on the most important aspect of this "church," the bottom line on the balance sheet of profitability.

  10. Ralph
    I still wonder why Detective Walsh wouldn't come forward? Going over the case no doubt there would have been a different outcome if Avery never took the plea deal. Yes, he did it to save his own neck due to his prior involvement but to think that three innocent people have gone to jail so that he wouldn't die in jail and yet someone did not him but an innocent priest who never no doubt touched Billy Doe. It makes you wonder who was worst Avery or Billy Doe. As for the money from the Archdiocese ....Yes it makes a person sick in the stomach to think they settled . Looking at this picture of Billy Doe truly a life wasted no money will ever come good for this guys life. I just hope someday the Real Truth will come out and the real criminals in this case will be put behind bars

    1. Your "wish" has already come true. The real truth DID come out and the real criminals have been put behind bars. The fact that you get "sick in the stomach" because your "church" gave Billy Doe a big settlement (effectively acknowledging their guilt) instead of standing up and fighting means nothing... Don't worry... there will surely be other big settlements paid out to victims due to the actions of your religious sect's "men of God." Please give more money as soon as you can...

    2. I ask you and people like you who accept every drug addicts claim they were abused by the clergy etc etc despite what those 12 jurors decided 34 months ago in the Shero & Engelhardt trial, were you there in the sacristy at St Jerome's and saw firsthand the assault by the priest, or you were behind the dumpster oh no that was wrong it was in Pennypack Park where shero assaulted Danny Gallagher in broad daylight no less forcing him out of the car with a ripped uniform shirt, bleeding from the rectum after that vicious one saw anything ever, absolutely no proof exists .....a wrongful conviction based on just the word of a pathological lying thieving drug dealing drug addict who got his get out of jail card from Seth Williams and his crew after a series of arrests in Philadelphia in exchange for his testimony on the stand....

      I never met nor knew a drug addict that ever told the truth, and Danny Gallagher is at the head of the class........shame on the archdiocese for settling this case and caving into the extortion by this scumbag.....

      have a nice day drug addicts, blame everyone else but yourself for your drug habit......the church and it's clergy & even teachers like Shero are easy targets....

  11. You don't see Ralph mention it here but the archdiocese of Philadelphia before making settlement with Billy Doe settled with three other victims of sexual abuse again acknowledging their guilt, and again keeping the parishioners in the dark.

    1. @Dennis - do you happen to know who they are and which priests allegedly abused them?

    2. I've been trying to cover it up.

  12. Once again details of the settlement are not being made public, the accused identified as fathers William Ayers and Martin Satchell.

    1. Right on top of things Dennis. Those settlements were back in May. Keep up the good work.


Thoughtful commentary welcome. Trolling, harassing, and defaming not welcome. Consistent with 47 U.S.C. 230, we have the right to delete without warning any comments we believe are obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.