Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bernard Shero Loses In State Supreme Court

By Ralph Cipriano

The state Supreme Court on New Year's Eve turned down an appeal by Bernard Shero in the Billy Doe case.

On June 12, 2013, Shero, then 51, was sentenced by Judge Ellen Ceisler to 8 to 16 years in jail after he was convicted by a jury of rape of a child, attempted rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault.

The Supreme Court decision means that Shero is out of appeals on the state court level. In a 36-page decision last March, a panel of three Superior Court judges ruled that seven appeals issues raised by Shero, a former Catholic school teacher, "are either waived or devoid of merit."

The state Supreme Court decision was more succinct. In a one-page order, the court declared, "And now, this 31st day of December, the Petition for Allowance of Appeal is DENIED." The only other sentence on the page mentioned that "Justice Eaken did not participate in the decision of this matter." That's because Justice Eaken is presently serving a suspension with pay in the "porngate" scandal pending a trial by a judicial ethics board.

Shero was tried along with the late Father Charles Engelhardt who was sentenced by Judge Ceisler sentenced to 6 to 12 years in jail after being convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor and indecent assault.

The 67-year-old priest died in prison in November, 2014. Engelhardt also lost his appeals in state Superior Court as well as state Supreme Court.

On Aug. 19, the state Supreme Court in a one-page order on the Engelhardt appeal declared that "Petition for leave to file Petition for Allowance of Appeal Nunc Pro Tunc is DENIED."

With Engelhardt's death, his case is over. Shero's lawyer, Burton A. Rose, could not immediately be reached on whether he plans any federal appeals in the case.


  1. Interesting case and state supreme court review. I would go to Federal court for review. The alleged rape scene in the church would have resulted in Billy Doe screaming and that would result in staff members from the school rushing to find out what was going on as being anally pounded is painful. Ditto to Shero tying a belt on Billys neck and anally raping him in a city park would have attracted attention. Fact is nobody rushed to his aid because the incidents never happened at all. Any detective and ADA would be suspicious of his stories after viewing the alleged sites where it supposedly happened . DA Seth Williams decided it happened and used this to indict the priest and teacher.

    Sad to say that we have to fix the state supreme court by adding in people who would question the veracity of the DA in bringing such a case. Better would have been to have another judge other than Ceisler to grant defense motions to dismiss a case so lacking in veracity.

  2. @James -

    The Shero / Engelhardt convictions stink to high heaven!

    For openers, consider the juror vetting process. When questioned, one of the jurors mentioned that she was from Saint Jerome's (as was Billy Doe and his family) and that she knew Father Avery. Chances are, since she was from Saint Jerome's, she most probably also knew both Doe's mother and maybe even Doe himself. Why in the bloody blue blazes she was not challenged and immediately disqualified is beyond my comprehension.

    Mike McGovern's office also screwed up big time when a subpoena to Doe's brother (also supposedly a lawyer) was sent US mail (rather than by certified mail). This was probably just a clerical blunder. Judge Ceisler subsequently refused to let McGovern serve him properly to secure his crucial testimony. Wouldn't you think that a truly impartial judge would give the defendants (who were presumed innocent at this point)every opportunity to demonstrate their innocence? No, not Ceisler, and certainly not in Philadelphia.

    Two of the jurors who heard all the testimony - but who were excused before the deliberation phase - expressed their shock ( when they later heard that both Engelhardt and Shero were convicted in a case where there were so many contradictions and the preponderance of reasonable doubt.

    So now, after two fruitless appeals, we have one dead priest and a courageous, plucky, visually handicapped and impoverished ex-school teacher behind bars with no immediate relief in sight.

    More collateral damage!

    1. No, sir, lawyers do not mistakenly mail a subpoena by regular mail in a high profile case. And they do not mistakenly forget to look for a green card coming back in the mail to staple to the subpoena proving that the subpoena was served by CM/RRR. That just doesn't happen. And judges are not required to allow defense counsel to correct their malpractice in the midst of a jury trial. Those lawyers had no intention of serving that subpoena, and you should be wondering why.

      You should go further and wonder why those lawyers allowed that fool Avery to get on the stand and call all of the defendants' credibility into question. Was the judge supposed to teach the defense counsel in the midst of trial that that was a poor choice?

      You've pointed out that you think the defense counsel did a poor job of picking a jury. Do you think a judge is required to correct that also?

      The defendants should have sued their counsel for malpractice. That is not something a judge can force defendants to do. A judge has no way of knowing whether the lawyers duped their clients or were doing their clients' bidding. I don't think you have a clear understanding of what a judge actually does.

    2. Sarah -

      Sending the subpoena via US mail was simply a lower level clerical screwup - nothing more. Sorry, I can assure you that there's no conspiracy here.

      Avery was called as a witness for the prosecution (remember Ceisler's 'hostile witness' comment?), not the defense. Avery fully intended and valiantly tried to clear his name by recanting the plea deal foisted upon him in the previous trial as it allowed the prosecution to convict Monsignor Lynn (as Bevilacqua - their primary 'target' was deceased).

      Now, were Ceisler truly interested in impartial 'justice', she could have ordered Doe's lawyer brother to appear before the court.

      As for the jury selection, that was - in my opinion - a tragic miscalculation on the part of the lawyers who sincerely believed that the jury would render a not guilty verdict based upon the preponderance of inconsistencies and reasonable doubt.

      Unfortunately, they were wrong, and in the case of Father Engelhardt - dead wrong.

      Better yet, she should have afforded Engelhardt and Shero individual trials to avoid the possibility of the appearance of guilt on the part of one defendant influencing the jury's perception of the other defendant.

  3. Ralph I apologized to you 4 times yesterday at Pierre's (If I was wrong about mobsters and Beasley firm) site but he wouldn't print it!!!!?????? I also asked if the firm had any dealings with the church or any of the church's religious orders. Jim Robertson


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